Mmegi Online :: Guma doubts viability of SPEDU projects
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Friday 21 September 2018, 15:09 pm.
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Guma doubts viability of SPEDU projects

The chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprises, Samson Moyo Guma has punched holes into the business case of SPEDU projects.
By Oageng Batenegi Fri 16 Sep 2016, 15:45 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Guma doubts viability of SPEDU projects








SPEDU chief executive officer (CEO), Mokubung Mokubung appeared before the committee on Tuesday where he presented the company’s projects.

Guma questioned how the regional agency could help the deteriorating economic situation of the Selebi-Phikwe area if Mokubung has little knowledge about the performance of the troubled BCL Mine.  The Tati-East MP reminded the CEO that SPEDU was initiated because of the critical performance of BCL and to industrialise and diversify away from the mine.

“I don’t understand how you will operate if you don’t understand BCL.  Whatever you do, BCL should be (the) starting point.  You cannot ignore that and there should be nothing secretive about it,” Guma told Mokubung.

Mokubung had earlier tried to plead with the committee not to ask him more about the operations at BCL, but Guma was unmoved.  At pains to provide Guma’s committee with answers, Mokubung later bowed to pressure and said he does not see any prospects for the mine.

“To tell the truth, there is no business case for the BCL,” Mokubung said, adding that one of the major problems for the BCL is shortage of working capital.

Guma wanted the CEO to clearly outline their projects and how they will address the area’s deteriorating economic situation. Another member of the committee, MP for Gaborone Central, Phenyo Butale asked Mokubung if SPEDU is worthy for Batswana and the achievements of the organisation since its inception.

“There is very little to what we have achieved,” Mokubung told the committee. The CEO said they have a number of infrastructure developments that they are embarking on to address the area’s unemployment, which he claimed stands at 20% out of a population of 200,000.

Mokubung said there is the refurbishment of the Selebi-Phikwe airport runway, apron and taxiway, which were completed at P14.8 million against an initial budget of P15 million.

“This entailed re-surfacing the runway and its concomitant infrastructure,” said Mokubung. The 1,800-metre long runway was constructed in the early 1970s following the birth of the town, the committee heard. The CEO said SPEDU is in dialogue with two private airlines in a bid to establish scheduled flights to local and foreign destinations planned to commence during the first quarter of 2017.

“The strategic importance of this project is that it will enhance access for tourism, business and leisure through air travel into Selebi-Phikwe and

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the region,” he said.

The committee also heard that SPEDU has also taken over the implementation of the P86 million-budgeted Platjan Bridge construction project from the Department of Roads in April this year.  Mokubung said the tender will be awarded before the end of this month, with construction earmarked for October this year and be completed by April 2018.  The CEO said the bridge is expected to reduce travel distance, cost and time for tourists from neighbouring South Africa on the way to Botswana’s major tourism destinations of the Tuli Block, Chobe, and the Okavango Delta.

The other anticipated benefit of the project, according to Mokubung is to divert tourism and business traffic from the Martins Drift border.

“This diversion means that traffic via Selebi -Phikwe will increase tourist bed night and spending in Selebi Phikwe thus boosting the growth of the area’s economy,” said Mokubung. 

He added that the Motloutse River farm electrification project is expected to create a conducive environment for horticulture production along the bank of the river.

Mokubung also mentioned dam-based tourism development such as within the shorelines of the Letsibogo, Thune and Dikgatlhong dams. SPEDU also sees value in Talana Farms, which has been condemned by a counterpart government parastatal, Botswana Development Corporation (BDC).  But Mokubung was adamant that they work closely with BDC on Talana Farms, as they as SPEDU see potential in the project. Mokubung said they have found an investor who has paid P1.5 million to secure the Talana Farms land, which is currently under liquidation. The CEO said there are other community economic development and manufacturing projects facilitated and all are expected to create employment and boost the economy of the Selebi-Phikwe area.

Despite a seemingly clear outline of the projects by Mokubung, members of the parliamentary committee remained doubtful. MP Pius Mokgware of Gabane-Mmankgodi asked the CEO if he thinks depending on the government grant of P8 billion is sustainable.

He added SPEDU has designed its strategy in such a way that the company has income generating projects to reduce dependence on government, which cannot continue funding the organisation.  The other unfortunate scenario is that SPEDU does not have any template or performance measurement indicators, but only a ‘strategic plan’ as the CEO admitted when answering a question from Gaborone Bonnington South MP, Ndaba Gaolathe.

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