LOBATSE: The Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) has invested close to P100 million in the Milk Afric dairy and processing plant, after the project was delayed for close to two years.
Works will finally start in setting up the plant following a groundbreaking ceremony held last week, at which BDC was unveiled as a partner for the project.
BDC’s managing director, Bashi Gaetsaloe said funding Milk Afric project has not been a difficult decision since the project met all the requirements to qualify for funding. “It was not a head scratcher to fund Milk Afric project, it is one project that we did not think twice about in terms of funding.
“If a company approaches us with a proposal and we do not see an element of resiliency on both the project and the owner it is hard to fund it. Milk Afric leadership and project itself has proved without doubt that it is resilient,” he said.
Shovel Projects, the company that has been awarded the tender to build a milking parlour at the multi million pula Milk Afric dairy plant, has assured that the project will be built within budget and in time. Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony on Friday, managing director of Shovel Projects, Cobus Du Plessis said the Milk Afric model of dairy production is one of the best in the world and his company will deliver in time.
“It has been a long process to get the milking parlour drawings approved by the council. They have been finally approved and we will be on site until the first glass of milk is produced next year in April.
“Three hundred and thirty cows will be milked within an hour and 6,000 (litres) per day. We have built similar milking parlours in Swaziland, Zambia, Sri Lanka and many parts of the world and we have always met the time schedule and the budget hence we can confidently promise that milk will be delivered in time and within budget,” he said.
The Milk Afric project has over the years been marred by delays, but BDC’s involvement as a partner is expected to boost the momentum of the project through their financial injection of close to P100 million. Former Vice President, Ponatshego Kedikilwe said the project has availed opportunities for many other entrepreneurs who can indirectly or directly support it.
“The project of this nature says to us all that here is an opportunity, Milk Afric has availed an opportunity for all to support this project. The annual bill of milk imports is P345 million. There are many considerable downstream possibilities for supporting the project.
“The determination of Milk Afric team are worth celebrating, they had to overcome hurdles, under any other circumstances someone would have said the game is not worth the candle,” he said.
Town mayor, Malebogo Kruger said the BDC’s involvement in funding local projects, especially in Lobatse continues to help her town develop.
“BDC’s involvement in financing the Milk Afric project and other projects within our town has come at the right and convenient time. This has been a breakthrough in the project and it fulfills our dream to see youths employed here and being able to supply the country from Lobatse gives us courage. The project has faced many challenges, but determination and perseverance has paid off,” Kruger said.
The Milk Afric project is worth P120 million and is expected to create 250 jobs in its first two-and-half years. Milk Afric, which has signed a processing agreement with Parmalat, has also roped in the Lobatse Town Council as they entered into a public private partnership deal through the leasing of a dairy farm for 25 years.