Mmegi Online :: After BCL, Phikwe starts to pick up the pieces
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Wednesday 17 January 2018, 23:00 pm.
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After BCL, Phikwe starts to pick up the pieces

SELEBI-PHIKWE: Despite little hope that nothing much would be salvaged from the BCL Mine at least for now, efforts to diversify the town’s economy are underway.
By Onalenna Kelebeile Fri 22 Dec 2017, 12:30 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: After BCL, Phikwe starts to pick up the pieces








The Mine may have closed and uncertainty over its reopening is rife, but not all is lost for the SPEDU region. SPEDU is currently involved in 14 projects covering nine citizen-owned companies in information and technology and manufacturing, three government projects and two foreign-owned in the agricultural sector. These companies according to the chief executive officer, Mokubung Mokubung are expected to invest approximately P277.5 million. The Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and other funding agencies will part-finance with an amount of P17. 5 million.

Targeted employment creation is anticipated to be 1,560 in 12 months, 2,480 in the next two years and 5,800 in the next three years. Mokubung said during the recent stakeholder engagement meeting to date 569 jobs have been created against the target of 1,170.

On the agri-business sector, the National Agro Processing Plant (NAPRO) has already made positive strides in securing market from various supermarkets. The total sales for the processing plant since April this year is P98,570and since April to date 2,383.74kg of produce that includes tomatoes, cabbage, onion and beetroot have been procured from farmers.

Mokubung said board of directors for NFTRC and NAFTEC Investments have met to endorse resolutions towards the privatisation of the agro-processing plant. SPEDU has been appointed by the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security to be amongst a team working on privatisation and investor identification for NAPRO. “CEDA has shown interest and is yet to submit a proposal for consideration,” he said.

Talana Farms in the Tuli Block area has employed 120 workers so far. The groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of 5,000 tonnes of grain silos was held in October this year. The project is estimated to cost P10 million therefore, according to Mokubung, raising investment value to around P50 million. From its inception Talana Farms produced 508 tonnes of maize, sugar beans and soya. Since August this year 260 hectares of soya beans, 25 hectares of maize and three hectares of butternuts have been planted. “The number of jobs created fluctuates due to planting or the harvesting season,” he said.

Lotsane Irrigation Project on the other hand is expected to create 190 jobs and already 63 people have been employed. The project involves private South African investors to cultivate 250 hectares of land for agriculture near Lotsane Dam in Maunatlala. The investment value to date is P14 million. Four centre pivots have been erected covering 206 hectares of which 14 hectares of green mealies, 5.5 hectares of butternuts, 0.5 hectares of onions, a hectare of cabbage, three hectares of tomato, seven hectares of lucerne and some watermelons. The crops were planted between August and October.

Mokubung said the facilitation of SPEDU and Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) continues for company directors to secure residence and work permits and follow ups are being made to submit the required information. “SPEDU and the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security are facilitating the process to acquire a title deed for the leased area. SPEDU is currently evaluating business plans for the remaining 100 hectares,” he added.

SPEDU and the Ministry of Agriculture are also evaluating business plans for the Thune Irrigation Scheme in an endeavour to identify suitable investors to develop the land and start production. The Thune Irrigation Project proposes to provide bulk infrastructure to support 423 hectares for horticulture production.

One of the manufacturing projects, Dinesh Textiles, a citizen-owned self funded company that specialises in production of school uniforms and protective clothing has 243 employees. It recently advertised 108 posts that were expected to be filled by end of November. SPEDU is facilitating the company for expansion purposes.

Brite Star, a subsidiary of Magnus Aircraft of the USA intends to set up a manufacturing firm of the electric and hybrid airplanes of different sizes here. Its operations will include hotel facility, pilots academy, aircraft maintenance, eco travel services and leasing programme. Mokubung said the proposed project has the potential to create 3,000 jobs in five years. As a pre-requisite for the development of Selebi-Phikwe, Brite Star has communicated the need for a 10 hectare piece of land within the Selebi-Phikwe airport, three-phase power, direct access to the runway, road access, mixed use development permission and airport customisation for night flights.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the company and critical stakeholders has already been signed and the design engineer team has completed the fieldwork at the airport and Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) and Brite Star are working on lease terms. “The

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developers are already in town to start with the establishment of the plant,” he added.

The Higer Look Sharp Motors, a local company that is currently in dealership agreement with a bus company in China, is proposing a project that entails assembling of Higer buses in Selebi-Phikwe and has the potential to create 200 jobs once fully operational. Mokubung highlighted that SPEDU is in the process of facilitating a 10-hectare piece of land for the company and a meeting with the Department of Lands, Selebi-Phikwe Town Council (SPTC) and the company was held last month. “In principle the team agreed to facilitate the direct allocation on condition that the developer furnishes SPEDU with their audited financials to demonstrate their financial ability to execute the project,” he said.

The pharmaceutical plant, Pula Dynes, has been allocated a 10-hectare piece of land for the project and the project’s architectural drawings have been conditionally approved pending the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The project aims to create 900 jobs during construction and 300 once operational. “The EIA is complete and submission was done to the Department of Environmental Affairs and approved. The construction is expected to start in January 2018,” he added.

The air separation plant, Oxygen Gas (Pty) Ltd was facilitated for land allocation by SPEDU in August 2016 and proposes to produce 10,615 tonnes of oxygen, 3,504 tonnes of nitrogen and 876 tonnes of nitrous oxide per annum. The company has the potential of creating 205 jobs. The EIA public review process is complete and approval of the EIA was granted in October this year. The construction is expected to commence during the first quarter of 2018 once all logistics are cleared.   

The Global Railway Engineering is a South African national owned company that aims to manufacture rail wagons for marketing in South Africa, East and West Africa and Botswana. It entails manufacturing, refurbishment and redesign of locomotives and rolling stock. The project targets the local and export markets into the SADC region. The project is expected to start operations in the 2018/2019 financial year with the initial employment of 67 people.

“SPEDU is facilitating a process in which  Botswana Railways will support the establishment with takeoff agreements and possibly develop the project in partnership with Global Railways Engineering. A non-disclosure agreement has been signed between the parties and a MoU was proposed to be signed by this month,” he said.

The Bulb World paid for the plant in February this year, however there were some delays in the delivery of the plant. Mokubung explained that the plant is currently in Zambia while other components are in Egypt hence the delay. The developers have been expecting the plant to be delivered by mid November this year. SPEDU and BITC continue to facilitate the directors to secure work permits. On the other hand, Asante Tech Group, an ICT manufacturing company signed lease agreement with BDC in March this year. The company is expected to employ 200 people once fully operational. It moved to site in July to partition the warehouse and completed in August. The machinery is currently being shipped into Botswana.

Another ICT manufacturing company, Almaz has been leased a factory space from BDC and completed relocation of equipment to Selebi-Phikwe in May. The company was inspected for licensing and passed the occupation inspection. It is currently receiving some components from their suppliers in preparation for the Selebi-Phikwe line. It has employed 67 officers 45 of which are former BCL employees.

Another upcoming project in Selebi-Phikwe is the Golf Resort and Estate. The project entails the development of a world-class 18-hole golf course with state of the art clubhouse, a hotel with conference centre, offices and mini commercial centre as well as 450 upmarket housing estates.

The project is sited in the 101-hectare plot owned by SPTC and is to be developed by Poe Ya Rona, which is a joint venture company, owned by Cabling for Africa and Sefudi Kept International. Sefudi Kept International finances the project, which is an offshore investment company in South Africa.

The project is estimated to employ around 800 people during construction and 400 once fully operational. The SPEDU CEO said the MoU has been signed between SPEDU, SPTC and Peo Ya Rona on the reservation of the rights to use the plot. Services of transactional model for  business model advisory was expected to be finalised at the end of November this year and construction  will commence in June 2018.

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