The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry is still seeking development funds for the long-anticipated Lobatse Leather Park almost five years later.
Trade minister, Bogolo Kenewendo told the media this week that her ministry is still sourcing funds for the multi-million pula project that is expected to create at least 10,000 jobs instead of the initial 5,000 upon commencement.
“Meanwhile, the ministry is sourcing funds from relevant authorities for the construction of the Leather Park,” she said.
The Leather Industry Strategy was initially developed by the ministry in 2012. The Leather Park is highly technical and needs specialised expertise and experience both at construction and operational stages, the minister said.
Once operational the Leather Park is expected to provide private sector activities in hides and skins collection, raw to finished leather tanneries and manufacturing of different leather products. These products include shoes, belts, jackets and others thereby playing an instrumental role in stimulating economic activity.
“The project would entail development of the Common Effluent Treatment Plant, Sewage Treatment Plant, and Operation of Tanneries as well as manufacturing of leather products,” she said. Kenewendo said currently recruitment of a chief operations officer who would be responsible for the running of the Park is ongoing and is at short-listing stage.
“Ongoing consultations with relevant stakeholders including the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Botswana Power Corporation, Water Utilities Corporation, training institutions,
“The consultation process is meant to address availability and quality of raw materials, capacity building and provision of utilities. This is a continuous process, which would continue until the park is ready to operate,” she said.
However, there has been some development as in 2016 the Ministry completed the establishment of a special purpose vehicle that would own, build, operate and maintain the project and appointed a Project Management Team while the technical advisor came on board in January this year. Last year there was approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment and the Environmental Management Plan. It has been envisaged that government will spend P240 million on construction only with commencement of operations expected to be in 2020.
Meanwhile, the Department for Co-operative Development continues to implement the Co-operative Transformation Strategy with a view to revamping and resuscitating co-operatives to become competitive, profitable, viable and sustainable business enterprises.
There are currently 271 registered Co-operative Societies both financial and non-financial across the country, which have created a total of 130 jobs. According to the Ministry, co-operative development and promotion remain a priority in citizen economic empowerment as well as contributing to poverty eradication and employment creation.