State of the Nation Address 2021

President Masisi delivering State of the Nation Address. PIC MORERI SEJAKGOMO
President Masisi delivering State of the Nation Address. PIC MORERI SEJAKGOMO

State of the Nation Address by President Mokgweetsi Masisi to the 1st Meeting Of The 3rd Session Of The 12th Parliament

INTRODUCTION

1. Mister Speaker, before I address this august House, I would like to request that we observe a moment of silence in remembrance of our citizens and residents, who have departed during the course of this year. AMEN! I wish to extend my deepest condolences to the bereaved families who lost their loved ones.

2. This is the second time that I am delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has had a debilitating effect on our personal lives and the economy. I want to assure our people that Government is committed to doing all that is possible to manage the pandemic, and rebuild our economy to make Botswana better and stronger. The accelerated roll-out of the national vaccination programme attests to this commitment.


3. Allow me to express my profound gratitude to the frontline workers for their selfless service to this Nation by putting up a spirited fight against COVID-19. My appreciation also goes to the political, traditional and religious leaders, civil society as well as the private sector for their unqualified support in this fight. A special thank you, to Batswana ka kakaretso and residents who have demonstrated resilience and solidarity that has brought us this far.

4. Let me remind all of you that the end of the State of Public Emergency is not an indication of the end of the pandemic. I therefore, urge you to continue abiding by the COVID-19 health protocols of face masking, social distancing, washing or sanitising your hands, as we have all been doing.

5. Mister Speaker, despite the challenges of COVID-19, Botswana remains resolute in enhancing the effectiveness of the existing programmes for HIV epidemic prevention and treatment. HIV treatment has yielded tangible results for reduction in AIDS related deaths and mother-to-child HIV transmission. However, prevention remains the cornerstone of efforts to curb the spread of HIV.

6. Mister Speaker, it will be remiss of me, if I did not acknowledge our athletes who performed exceptionally well at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in July 2021. I want to particularly, recognise our Team Botswana 4 by 4 Men’s Relay Team for bringing a bronze medal to Botswana. In the same breath, let me recognise our athletes who made a strong show at the World Under 20 Athletics Championships in August this year. You have made our country proud and we salute you.

7. To Amantle Montsho who has retired from the world of athletics; thank you for serving Botswana well. You are a source of inspiration to many. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

8. I had the pleasure of hosting three out of thirty six 2020 top achievers in the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PLSE), Junior Certificate Examination (JCE) and Botswana General Certificate in Secondary Education Examinations (BGCSE), two weeks ago. I want to particularly, recognise Mr. Tumisang Nkwe, who has attained 11 A Stars (A*s) at BGCSE, which is a national record since the introduction of this Qualification in 1999. The young man has made history both for himself and the BGCSE.

9. On the business front, a home grown multinational organisation, Letshego Holdings Limited is operating in 11 Sub Saharan markets. It thrives on leveraging innovation and technology to reach individuals who have limited access to traditional financial services. Our resolve is to create another great continental/global company with Botswana roots in the digital era.

10. Mister Speaker, as a nation we have set ourselves a lofty goal of becoming a high income country by 2036. The path to achieving this goal dictates that, we take deliberate steps that will transform our institutions; the way we think and the way we act. It is with this in mind, that I presented a Reset Agenda in May 2021, with the following priorities:

i. Save Botswana‘s population from COVID-19, by implementing a series of life saving measures that include a successful and timely vaccination programme. Adherence to COVID-19 health protocols remains key.

ii. Align Botswana Government’s machinery to the Presidential Agenda, to ensure that the national transformation agenda will be embodied in the public service of the day. This will come with significant Government reforms in all public institutions. We need greater agility and responsiveness like never before in the delivery of public services.

iii. Digitisation will be guided by the Digitisation Strategy, taking advantage of the technologies offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will unlock and enable high productivity among our people. Batswana, I encourage you to stand up and be part of this transformation.

iv. Value Chain Development will unlock opportunities for new, high-growth companies in the private sector focusing on minerals, tourism, agriculture, and education, among others. I encourage all of us to be proactive and explore these opportunities.

v. Mindset Change aims to drastically shift our way of doing things as a people; to be more creative, efficient, agile and to be confident and proud of ourselves and project the same to the world. Choose to see yourself, your village and country differently.

11. Mister Speaker, we remain committed to the delivery of the National Vision 2036, which is mainly operationalised through National Development Plans. The Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP 2020) is currently, being rolled out to facilitate economic recovery efforts and support the implementation of the remaining years of NDP 11.

12. Mister Speaker, allow me to deliver the 2021 State of the Nation Address guided by the following themes, which are meant to promote a coordinated approach to national development:

• Economy and Employment;

• Social Up-liftment;

• Sustainable Environment; and,

• Governance, Peace and Security.

ECONOMY AND EMPLOYMENT

13. Mister Speaker, the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook shows a robust global economy recovery in 2021 and 2022, with a projection of 5.9 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively, driven by growth in advanced economies. The improved growth forecasts reflect continued fiscal support and the successful roll out of vaccines.

14. Despite this anticipated growth, there are challenges related to uneven recovery both across and within countries, and the potential for persistent economic disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic. Advanced economies are expected to register a growth rate of 5.2 percent in 2021 and 4.5 percent in 2022, while emerging markets and developing economies are expected to register faster growth rates of 6.4 percent in 2021 and 5.1 percent in 2022.

15. At regional level, Gross Domestic Product for SubSaharan Africa is estimated to have contracted by 1.7 percent in 2020, but is expected to rebound to a growth rate of 3.7 percent and 3.8 percent in 2021 and 2022, respectively. However, growth prospects are subject to downside risks, mainly due to the tightening of global financial conditions, the general decline in global trade, the spread of COVID-19 infections and emergence of new variants, combined with slow vaccine roll out.

16. On the domestic front, the economy contracted by 8.5 percent in 2020, in real terms, compared to 3.0 percent growth in 2019. This outturn was expected, given the sharp GDP contractions of 26 percent and 4.4 percent in the second and third quarters of 2020. The negative growth rate of 8.5 percent in 2020 reflected contraction in most sectors of the economy due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19. Financial and business services sector continues to be the future driver of economic diversification.

17. The negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy has been easing in recent months, with an improvement in economic growth. The global diamond industry has recovered since the last quarter of 2020, and this momentum has been maintained in 2021. As a result, domestic economy is expected to grow by 9.7 percent in 2021.

18. Mister Speaker, the Economy and Employment theme focuses on Agriculture, Tourism, Mining, the Creative Industry and Sport. These economic sectors are facilitated through the improvement of the Doing Business Environment; Development of Strategic infrastructure, Small and Medium Enterprise Development; Capacity Building, Research and Development; and the attainment of Digital Economy.

A. Agriculture

19. Mister Speaker, the just ended ploughing season,

2020/2021 received good rains and, it is for this reason that this year was declared a non-drought year. We are also expecting a good rainy season for 2021/2022. I therefore, encourage all of us to take advantage of this prospect and increase agricultural yield.

20. For the horticulture subsector in particular, the restrictions on imports of certain vegetables during times of abundant local supply continue to bear fruit. The restriction period of vegetables such as; potatoes, onions, beetroots, cabbages and carrots increased from 9 to 11 months from the previous production season. Let me applaud and encourage our people to continue this productivity trend.

21. Government has adopted a new arable agricultural programme, which will replace the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture (ISPAAD). The new programme will be introduced in June 2022 and is envisaged to increase agricultural productivity, and improve food security in the country.

22. The new programme will enable a higher number of farmers to increase production. The new changes entail a clustering system, which will reduce expenses, facilitate the provision of services, such as, electricity and water along clusters. In the long run this new programme will facilitate commercialization of farming in Botswana.

23. Mister Speaker, currently, Botswana has a storage capacity of two hundred and one thousand metric tonnes (201 000 mt) of grain, with silos located in Francistown, Pitsane and Pandamatenga. SEZA is building additional silos in Pandamatenga with a capacity of sixty thousand (60 000) metric tonnes. This will bring the country’s total national capacity to two hundred and sixty one thousand (261 000) metric tonnes.

24. The country’s grain production stands at one hundred and nine thousand (109 000) metric tonnes, against three hundred thousand (300 000) metric tonnes of national demand. The 64 percent deficit presents an opportunity for our local farmers to meet the local demand.

25. As part of our efforts to revitalise the beef industry, Government has facilitated 3 private abattoirs to export beef and by-products to international markets. This has increased confidence amongst the different stakeholders in the beef industry.

26. The Beef Cluster Competitive Reinforcement Initiative (CRI) has been extended to commercialize the smallstock subsector and promote export diversification. In this regard, construction of the Tsabong Multi-Species Abattoir is under way and is expected to be complete by July 2022. The abattoir will service Kgalagadi, Kweneng West and the Southern districts. To meet traceability requirements for the international market demands, Government has procured ear tags, which are available for sale at the Department of Veterinary Services across the country.

27. My initative to distribute rams and bucks to farmers across the country aims to; improve the meat quality and increase quantities of smallstock. Following the overwhelming response from Batswana, I have expanded the initiative to include distribution of bulls for the improvement of the local beef offtake rate. Allow me to express my heartfelt appreciation to those supporting this initiative, and urge recepients to take care of animals and maximise their value.

28. Mister Speaker, I must acknowledge that the beef industry has been faced with challenges in the past years. As of October 2020, Government took a decision to allow for export of live cattle, which is a major relief for farmers and an alternative market for the beef industry. As of September 2021, one hundred and sixty eight thousand eight hundred and sixty (168 860) cattle were exported to neighbouring South Africa and Namibia. The export of live cattle is expected to continue for the next two years, subject to periodic reviews.

29. The Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) is the Regional Reference Laboratory for Foot and Mouth Disease in SubSaharan Africa. New developments are underway to diversify BVI products. In this regard, the Institute is undertaking a complimentary facility expansion for a new Blending and Filling facility, which will support sustainability efforts, by maintaining current markets and penetrating new international markets. The expansion project will be completed by the end of 2024.

30. The dairy subsector has potential to develop the local agricultural sector. Milk production for the year 2020/21 was 7.2 million litres, an increase from six million litres compared to the previous year. Local milk production remains far short of the national demand of 65 million litres per annum. This presents a significant opportunity for private sector participation in the dairy value chain. A number of interventions have been earmarked for the dairy sector development, including alternative breeding systems to increase the dairy herd.

31. Mister Speaker, the Industry Support Facility, which is a component of ERTP, has benefitted two hundred and fifty two (252) applicants through financial assistance in the form of interest-free loans. By September 2021, the Facility had disbursed One Hundred Million Pula (P100 million). The agricultural sub-sectors that have benefited include; livestock, poultry, horticulture, dairy, smallstock and piggery. The distribution of the funds across the abovestated subsectors have supported four thousand two hundred and twelve (4 212) agricultural jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

B. Tourism

32. Mister Speaker, in an effort to revitalise and diversify the tourism sector, Government is redeveloping the Kasane/Kazungula area. We have been promoting tourism amidst the pandemic, through virtual platforms and engagements. These include, Virtual Botswana Travel and Tourism Expo in December 2020; the Virtual International Tourism Borse in March 2021; and Botswana Live Virtual Tours campaign, launched in August 2021. These platforms have been instrumental in stimulating the recovery of the tourism sector at both local and international levels.

33. In addition, a total of five thousand, four hundred and thirty-two (5 432) companies received funding amounting to One Hundred and Thirty Nine Million Seven Hundred and Eighty Six Thousand Nine Hundred and Forty-Two Pula (P139 786 942), under the COVID-19 wage subsidy. The subsidy covered salaries and company operations.

34. A further Two Hundred Million Pula (P200m) from the Tourism Industry Support Fund was disbursed by the National Development Bank in the form of loans.. As a result of these interventions, Government saved over one thousand (1000) jobs in the industry.

35. Community Trusts, which enhance the livelihoods of some communities continue to be supported. Through Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA), a total of Eleven Million, Seven Hundred and Forty-Eight thousand Pula (P11 748 000) was paid to freelance guides, freelance chefs and Mokoro Pollers and additional jobs were created over a period of nine months

36. In April 2021, Parliament approved the Revised Tourism Policy, which will enhance citizen participation in prime tourism areas such as, the Okavango Delta and National Parks around the country. The Policy will also facilitate plugging financial leakages within the tourism sector and promote development and exploitation of value chains. In order to operationalize the Policy, Government is developing a National Tourism Strategy and Master Plan, which will be completed in July 2022.

37. With the view to promote domestic tourism and increase meaningful citizen and local community participation in the growth and development of the sector, Parliament adopted a new Tourism Policy in 2021. In this regard, opportunities for citizens will be opened up in the Okavango Delta and the Chobe National Park.

C. Mining

38. Mister Speaker, rough diamond prices have increased by 5 percent on average during the second quarter of 2021, presenting the much needed revenue to sustain the economy during this difficult period.

39. The average number of people employed in the mining sector is eighteen thousand and eighty five (18,085), of which, seventeen thousand six hundred and Sixty (17,660) or 97 percent are citizens. These figures are expected to rise once Tshukudu Metals (T3) extension begins operations next year. Khoemacau Copper Mining plant commissioned at Boseto in June 2021 is also expected to increase employment upon reaching full production. The mine has invested over Ten Billion Pula (P10 Billion) in the project.

40. Morupule Coal Mine’s Motheo open pit and a coal washing plant project, aimed at expanding coal production by one million tonnes per year, is progressing well. The first washed coal from the project is expected by October 2022. There is also progress at the Minergy Coal project at Medie in the Kweneng District. The construction and commissioning of the coal processing plant is expected to reach full production during the first half of 2022.

41. The mining licence for Lucara Botswana’s Karowe Mine was renewed in December 2020. The mine which has invested about Three Billion Pula (P 3 billion), is expected to transition to underground production by 2026.

42. Following the termination of Majwe mine contract at the Jwaneng Cut 9 in April 2021, Debswana has successfully transitioned to a hybrid mining model. This is an ownermining operation with some key services being provided by local entrepreneurs. The transition has created opportunities for the local business community.

43. Furthermore, Debswana has been implementing a Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy (CEEP) since 2017. The Policy led to the establishment of a fully resourced CEEP office in 2019. The company aims to deliver a shared citizen spend value of Twenty Billion Pula (P20 billion) and create twenty thousand (20, 000) jobs by 2024. The CEEP high returns will be achieved through entrepreneurial capacity building, among others.

44. On this note, I am delighted to announce that part of the BCL Mine has been acquired by Premium Nickel Resources (PNR) Botswana, which signed an agreement with the Liquidator in September, 2021. When operational, more jobs will be created in Selebi Phikwe and its surrounding areas.

D. Creative Industry

45. Mister Speaker, the creative industry has great potential to contribute to Botswana’s economic diversification, employment and earn foreign exchange. Through a creative art strategy, we are commercialising the creative industry to include more Batswana in the lucrative wildlife and tourism filming and photography industry.

46. Another project scheduled for implementation during the course of the year is stimulating the, ‘Creative Sector 2021’. The programme is targeting about three hundred and forty two (342) artists. Through the project Government acquires arts and crafts for the National Permanent Art Collection, whose purpose is for education, research and posterity.

47. Funds amounting to, Fifty-Two Million Six-Hundred Thousand Pula (52,600,000.00), under ERTP have been earmarked for the refurbishment of the Mass Media Complex and the tender will be awarded before the end of the year. The Media Complex will be the hub for local film and television production. A feasibility study on the utilization of the Complex by the locals is ongoing and is being conducted by a citizen owned company.

48. Under the ‘Stimulate the Creative Industry 2020 ‘, initiative content for television was developed during movement restrictions. Artists who participated in the initiative were rewarded for their work. The programme involved eight hundred sixty seven (867) artists. A similar programme involving Eight Hundred and Six (806) artists at a cost of Two Million Six Hundred and Nineteen Thousand Pula (P2,619,000.00) was undertaken during the festive season. In each case, a different set of artists were engaged to ensure that as many artists as possible were reached.

49. At the end of the financial year 2020/2021, approximately Twenty Million Three Hundred Thousand Five Hundred Pula (P20, 300 000) had been spent in the remuneration of twelve thousand nine hundred and seventy eight thousand (12,978) artists. These efforts were aimed at assisting artists to survive this challenging period.

So far, CEDA has funded 8 projects at a cost of Three million Six Hundred Thousand Pula (3.6 million) in the creative industry. The funded projects are in film production, events management, music, photography and general entertainment.

50. Mister Speaker, in 2020, BoFiNet established an Internet TV content aggregation and distribution platform, called UPIC TV. The initiative facilitates broadcasting of local television content over the internet. This, without a doubt, was a landmark initiative for the country in facilitating the growth and economic benefits of the Creative Industry. Since its launch in October 2020, the initiative has resulted in a total of ninety (90) local titles and close to four thousand (4, 000) jobs across the Creative Sector. The number of local titles is projected to grow with additional Five Thousand Five Hundred and Fifty Eight (5 558) jobs.

51. Government implemented the ‘Cross Country Recordings Extravaganza 2021’ programme, covering both the visual and performing arts. Artists are covered across the country and remunerated for their performances and products. Phase I of the project was carried out in June/ July 2021. A total of One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty Four (1,844) artists benefited from performance fees of close to Five Million (5 million) Pula. Over Nine Million Pula (P9 million Pula) was spent on the service providers.

52. The establishment of the National Arts Council of Botswana (NACB) was one of the key priorities of Government at the last elections. I am happy to report that the NACB Act was adopted by the last Parliament in September 2020. Its full operationalisation is being put into effect.

E. Sport

53. Mister Speaker, we continue to invest in sport to commercialise it. In this regard, Government has spent in excess of Forty Million Three Hundred Thousand Pula (P40, 300 000. 00 Pula) over the past 3 years in preparing athletes to participate at the Tokyo Olympics and Under 20 Championships competitions. Government rewarded the 4 by 4 Relay Team with housing units at a cost of Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Pula (P450, 000) each, translating to a total of Two Million Seven Hundred Thousand Pula (P2.7 million) for winning a bronze medal.

54. In addition, First National Bank Botswana rewarded the team with an amount of One Million and Fifteen Thousand Pula (P1 015 000.00). May I also recognise members of the public for the support given to the teams and take this opportunity to urge the private sector to meaningfully support Government’s efforts in the development and commercialisation of sport in Botswana.

55. The Under 20 team’s performance at the World Athletics Under 20 Games was exceptional, bringing home three gold medals and one silver medal. Botswana was ranked 7th overall at the Championships. Please join me once again in congratulating these young athletes on this remarkable achievement.

56. As a way of improving sport infrastructure across the country, the community sport facilities project commenced in the 2018/19 financial year for the construction of ten (10) mini stadia. Of the 10 facilities under development, Bobonong and Moshupa facilities are expected to be handed over by the end of this financial year. The rest of the facilities are at different stages of construction.

F. Support for Small Medium and Micro Enterprises Development (SMMEs)

57. Mister Speaker, since the revision of CEDA Guidelines in July 2020, the Agency has approved seven thousand four hundred loans with a value of Eight Hundred and Fifty Million Pula (P150 000 000). These loans supported agrobusiness, services, property and manufacturing sectors. Women owned businesses funded six thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, while youth-owned businesses stood at three thousand three hundred and fifteen.

58. In an endeavour to improve export readiness and capacity of our local producers to meet the dictates of export markets, the Botswana Exporter Development Programme

(BEDP) was revised in October 2020. Initiatives aimed at preparing companies for the export market are ongoing. So far, seven (7) local companies have been supported to attain Fairtrade Certification. These certifications enhance product competitiveness and acceptance in international markets.

59. We are making progress in providing financial and technical support for business development to promote viable and sustainable SMMEs. This has been performed exceptionally well through the mentoring and fostering of SMMEs to take advantage of opportunities created by the pandemic. These Enterprises were also assisted with accessing COVID-19 relief interventions, which included the wage subsidy, and the Industry Support loans administered by Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), CEDA and National Development Bank (NDB). Through CEDA funding,

Letlhabile programme supported the informal sector.

60. The last sitting of Parliament passed the Economic Inclusion Bill which was signed into Law in October this year. The objective of the Act is to promote effective participation of targeted citizens in economic activities and facilitate enforcement of the economic empowerment initiatives. These initiatives include, enabling ownership of land and property.

61. As promised in my previous SONA, a decision was taken to reform the Public Procurement System. To achieve this, the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal (PPAD) Act and the Local Authorities Procurement and Asset Disposal (LAPAD) Act have been repealed. A single law to regulate public procurement in Botswana will soon be signed into Law. The main objective of the law is to make procuring entities fully accountable for all public procurement activities; to maximise efficiency in procurement; promote competition among suppliers and contractors; as well as, provide for the fair, equal and equitable treatment of all suppliers and contractors.

G. Supporting enhanced Human Capital Development

62. Mister Speaker, in order to transform to a knowledge based economy, it is important for us to reform institutions and transform the quality of education. Government is therefore, determined to adjust the mandate of some institutions to foster knowledge production, protection, dissemination, and trade or use. Furthermore, funding for knowledge production (research and development) will increase significantly from 2022/2023 onwards.

63. We are also vigorously pursuing an outcome-based education that will empower our people to acquire skills to meet the demands of the dynamic industry after leaving schools.

64. In this regard, Government is transforming Technical and Vocational Education. To date, twenty three (23) industry relevant Technical and Vocational Training qualifications were submitted to Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) for accreditation. At secondary school level, in January 2021, pilot projects were introduced at Maun Senior Secondary School with focus on Hospitality and Tourism. As for Moeng College, Animal and Crop Production as well as Horticulture were introduced. We intend to extend the outcome-based education to primary and junior secondary schools in the long term.

H. Development of Strategic Infrastructure

65. Mister Speaker, transition to a knowledge-based economy requires significant investment in strategic infrastructure. As we promised two years ago, significant financial resources have been committed to major infrastructural development to, among others; reduce the water supply deficit, as well as, improve the quality of transport, power generation and ICT infrastructure throughout the country. The following are some of the major projects that we have undertaken since 2019:

i. Completion of the Kazungula Bridge is a significant achievement. The Mohembo Bridge on the Okavango River is at 98 percent completion stage and will be opened to traffic by the end of the year. These two mega projects will facilitate trade and movement of people, as well as improve Botswana’s competitiveness and ease of access to regional export markets.

ii. The Masama-Mmamashia 100km Transmission

Pipeline and Associated Works from Masama Wellfields to Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant, which I recently commissioned, is one great achievement by Government to reduce water shortage in the Southern part of Botswana. The Lobatse Master Plan, which I also launched recently, is one of the greatest achievements. I also performed the ground breaking ceremony of the Molepolole – Gamononyane water project last week.

iii. Three infrastructure projects aimed at improving traffic flow in the Greater Gaborone are underway and expected to be completed by July 2022. This will improve mobility and decongest our roads. The projects entail modernisation of the Greater Gaborone Traffic Signalling System and the provision of the Centralized Traffic Control, the construction of three interchanges along KT Motsete Drive (“Western Bypass”) and selected layout intersection improvements. Mogoditshane- Gabane-Mankgodi road project is at procurement stage.

66. Mister Speaker, only 60 percent of the national electricity demand is being met from domestic generation. The remaining 40 percent is imported from the Southern African Power Pool. To address power deficit, remediation of Morupule B Power Station is ongoing and expected to meet the demand of 600 Mega Watts by 2024.

67. The first phase of the North West Transmission Grid Connection (NWTGC) which I launched early this year was completed on time and within the allocated budget of Two

Billion Three Hundred and Fifty Five Million Pula

(P2.355Billion). The Grid will expand the electrification of

the Okavango area and reduce dependency on neighbouring countries. Once Mohembo Bridge is complete, the Grid will provide power supply to villages beyond the Okavango River.

68. The construction of Phase 2 of this project, which will commence in the next financial year, will connect Kasane to Phokoje Substation, in Selebi Phikwe via Dukwi. It will further advance the development of the Agricultural Special Economic Zone in the Pandamatenga area. It will also support the Government’s priority project of water pumping from the Zambezi River to other parts of the country.

69. Since 2019, significant progress has been made in the development of a sustainable new energy mix. The energy mix comprises renewable energy sources and low carbon power generation sources, in addition to clean coal based generation. Private sector investors have been identified for the development of a 50 Megawatts grid scale solar Photovoltaic (PV) plant in Selebi Phikwe and six (6) grid tied solar PV plants in Shakawe, Bobonong, Lobatse, Molepolole, Maun and Ghanzi, with a combined capacity of 16 Megawatts.

70. The Planned Clean Energy Initiatives include the development of Coal Bed Methane and wind based generation power plants. In November 2020, Government launched the Solar Rooftop Programme, which allows customers to self-generate electricity through solar PV for own consumption and selling excess to the national grid. To date, the Botswana Power Corporation has approved

fifty seven (57) applications. Twenty one (21) applications were for commercial purposes, while thirty six (36) were for household use, both producing about two thousand (2000) kilowatts.

71. With respect to ICT infrastructure, optical fibre networks have been connected to five thousand six hundred and eighty (5 680) of the sixteen thousand (16 000) households targeted in Gaborone. The remaining households will be completed by the end of the 2021/22 financial year. This connectivity will enhance remote working, electronic learning, facilitate business online and stimulate the creation of small industries operating from homes.

72. Mister Speaker, all these infrastructural developments are a demonstration of our commitment to ease of doing business and Digitilisation of the economy.

73. We are in pursuit of a digitally inclusive nation, which will help us upscale service delivery across the country. In our efforts to accelerate digital transformation across all sectors of the economy, the recently announced Reset

Agenda places digitisation as a top priority. Since my last SONA address last year, a lot has been done in this endeavour.

74. As I previously stated, the objective is to put 25 services online by the end of March 2022. These include online business registration system, online Visa applications and BURS online registration, Birth and Death registration; Vehicle Registration; Marriage & Property Instrument; Driving License, Passport application; Citizenship applications; trade, manufacturing and Hawker & Street Vendor licensing and rebate certificate.

75. Regarding e-learning, most secondary schools are already connected to the internet and we are working to increase their bandwidth. Teachers are receiving training through the Trainers of Trainers (TOTS) programme in order to increase their proficiency in ICT.

76. The e-Health Strategy of 2020 to 2024 is meant to integrate and harmonise health records of patients. A home grown centralised electronic health record is being developed, while a centralised electronic medical record will be completed in December 2021. The system will replace the current standalone arrangement at more than four hundred (400) clinics and health posts by March 2023.

77. In terms of e-agriculture, Lobu Farm Digital Transformation project is being implemented to support commercialization of the smallstock subsector. Impala farm near Francistown has already replicated Lobu, while Setata is expected to do so in the near future.

78. Mister Speaker, Government continues to make land available for residential and commercial purposes. A total of eight thousand, six hundred and sixty one (8 661) previously un-serviced plots allocated at different localities are being serviced in: Mabutsane with six hundred and thirty four (634); Lentsweletau, two thousand four hundred and eighty six (2486); Lesoma/Kazungula, two thousand

and sixty (2 060); Mogaung in Moshupa two thousand nine hundred and eighty one (2 981) and Kalamare at five hundred (500). An additional one thousand and sixty eight (1068) serviced plots will be allocated by March 2022 in Metsimotlhabe.

79. Government continues to allocate un-serviced residential plots to alleviate the acute shortage of plots. As such, a total of two thousand, seven hundred and seventy two (2 772) residential plots have been allocated. Government also continues to prioritize the allocation of land to investment agencies such as SPEDU, SEZA, BIH and BITC, in order to facilitate development of the key economic Sectors.

80. Government intends to fast track the change of land use and sub-division of land for business purposes. In this regard, a deliberate consideration is being given to remove the requirement for Council approval for sub-division of land without change of land use, as well as, for the 50 percent sub-division of farms for other activities. This move will also support the operationalization of the Economic Inclusion Act.

SOCIAL UPLIFTMENT

81. Mister Speaker, Government seeks to achieve a dignified life for all citizens and to ensure that, no one is left behind, in Botswana’s development. We therefore continue to provide responsive social protection services for eligible citizens, including, the less privileged and marginalised, among us. Our efforts in this area include; facilitation of equitable access to decent and quality shelter, health, education, nutrition and water.

A. Youth

82. Entrepreneurship is one of the key approaches for empowering young Batswana. Government has spent over Three Hundred and Thirty Four Million Pula (P334 million) since 2019, by procuring services from two thousand and fifty three (2 053) youth owned businesses. This is in line with our policy of youth affirmative action which includes among others, 15 percent preference margin on general tenders and 20 percent in micro procurement.

83. Mister Speaker, although applications for the YDF were suspended in the 2020/2021 financial year due to COVID19 restrictions, two hundred and twenty one (221) YDF appeals from the previous year valued at approximately Twenty Two Million Five Hundred thousand Pula (P22. 5 million) were funded. This translates to at least three hundred (300) employment opportunities, for the youth.

84. Government offers funding to the youth for start-up and expansion of businesses. Since the revision of CEDA guidelines in 2019, the Agency has funded over four thousand (4 000) youth owned businesses, at the value of over Two Hundred Million Pula (P200 million), an investment which has created more than five thousand (5,000) jobs. In addition, through the Industry Support Facility, the Agency assisted close to thirty (30) youth owned businesses to the value of Four Million Five Hundred Thousand Pula (P4.5 million).

85. Collaboration between Government departments continues to create opportunities for youth business development. As such, an amount of Two Million Five Hundred Thousand Pula (P2 500 000.00) has been secured to fund 4 youth cooperatives. This partnership will create jobs in Moralane, Maun, Zutshwa and Kgagodi.

86. The Youth Connekt Botswana competed in the African Youth Connect Clusters Challenge 2021, involving twenty three (23) countries. It is particularly impressive that the team won a grand prize for one of the best project proposals under, ‘Digital Skills for the Future’, category. This is encouraging, and I want to urge our young people to participate more in similar activities as they have potential to drive the knowledge economy.

87. A series of initiatives were also introduced to address youth character development. As such, a youth radio programme with specific focus on mental health and psycho social support was started in January 2021. Furthermore, Government has introduced Youth Counselling on Air to provide Counselling, Psycho-Education and Referrals for adolescents and youth aged between 9 and 35 years.

88. Mister Speaker, as a Government we forge collaboration with the global community to strengthen efforts to tackle youth issues. As a result of these efforts, I was appointed Generation Unlimited Leader and its Champion for Southern Africa early this year by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Through this initiative, I am able to work in partnership with other African and global leaders to empower our youth through skills development and mentoring programmes. This will therefore prepare them to become innovators of the now and the future.

89. In addition, Botswana has secured the rights and will host the first Forbes Under 30 Summit in Africa, to be held in Gaborone and Kasane in April 2022. The Summit will attract more than six hundred (600) young people from across the world. The Summit will create a conducive environment for our young entrepreneurs to share their business ideas with the global business community and investors. It will also promote Botswana as a tourist destination. The hosting of this Summit is part of our promise to make Botswana a meeting place, conferencing and multi-sectoral tourism, among others.

90. Furthermore, I will be participating and Co-hosting a highlevel Global Forum for Children and Youth to be held virtually from 7th to 9th December 2021. The Forum will convene Children and Youth alongside leaders in Government, business and civil society, to discuss their urgent needs and propose ideas that will help secure their future. This is one of those fora that Government continues to support because they make our children and youth more visible in policy and decision-making.

B. Children

91. Mister Speaker, the healthy development of children is central to the well-being of our society. Steps are being taken to ensure that their access to basic needs, services, and their rights are protected. The Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Policy is being reviewed to strengthen mechanisms for promoting rights of children and ensuring accountability, as well as, making deliberate efforts to, “reaching the furthest first” . The review will be completed by the end of this financial year.

92. A Child-Friendly Police Service Centre was introduced in Gaborone in December 2020. The objective of the Centre is to create a conducive environment for interviewing GBV victims, mostly children and to safeguarding their privacy. Other centres are planned for Francistown, Maun, Palapye and Lobatse before the end of this financial year.

93. To equitably empower our children, we continue to expand early childhood education. The number of public primary schools offering the one year Reception class programme stands at six hundred and twenty nine (629). In addition, the draft Language Policy in Education which is under consideration, is meant to address the use of mother tongue in early childhood development. The Orthography and consultations are being conducted and the languages to be used will be identified.

C. Gender Equality

94. Mister Speaker, gender equality is pivotal to the development of Botswana. We are therefore, committed to promoting gender equality and women empowerment. In this regard, we are fast-tracking gender mainstreaming in all sectors of the economy.

95. The low representation of women in leadership and decision-making structures, gender based violence and high prevalence of HIV and AIDS among Young Women and Adolescent girls still remain a challenge for Botswana. However, since 2019, Government has made tremendous progress to address many of these challenges.

96. In delivering our promise to empower women, I have appointed able, hard-working and committed women to some positions of power. Key to these are: Honourable Peggy Serame as the first woman Minister of Finance and Economic Development; Ms. Emma Peloetletse was appointed the first woman to head the Civil Service, that is, Permanent Secretary to the President, along with her Deputy, Ms. Matshidiso Bokole.

97. Just last week, I appointed Her Ladyship Judge Tebogo Tau as the first woman to be President of the Court of Appeal of our Republic.

98. Ms. Diana Marathe was appointed as the first female Commissioner to ascend to the helm of the Botswana

Prisons Service; while Commissioner General Jeannette Makgolo was appointed, as the first woman to head the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) since its inception.

99. Over and above, Professor Sheila Tlou and Ambassador

Tebelelo Seretse were appointed Vice Chancellors of the Botswana Open University and the University of Botswana, respectively.

100. All these appointments are testimony of our efforts to ensure that women of Botswana are genuinely included in the leadership and decision making at the highest level of Government. I also wish to express appreciation to the private sector for heeding the call, as many women are being appointed to positions of influence and leadership at many of our private institutions.

101. More still needs to be done to uplift representation of women throughout the economy. I urge all of us to continue improving conditions and the role of women in our society, especially in the political space, where women are glaringly underrepresented.

102. Mister Speaker, significant improvements towards addressing Gender Based Violence have been made since my previous address in 2020. To this end, the Botswana Police Service introduced a Toll-Free number for reporting gender-based violence and established a Gender and Child Protection Unit in April 2021. A Sex Offenders’ Registry Act to record and publicize names and particulars

of all persons convicted of sexual offences, was adopted in December 2020.

103. An Inter-Ministerial Committee on Gender Based Violence (GBV) which provides strategic guidance on GBV Response was established in February this year. Three more District Gender Committees were established since my previous Address. This makes a total of fifteen such committees.

104. Mister Speaker, the First Lady of the Republic of Botswana, Ms. Neo Jane Masisi is working in close collaboration with the public and private sector, as well as civil society to raise awareness about GBV, as a member of the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD).

105. OAFLAD awarded the First Lady a grant for a project to promote advocacy on GBV related issues. The First Lady’s campaign is being carried out in Mogoditshane, Molepolole, Goodhope, Gantsi, Maun and Letlhakane, where incidences of GBV are most prevalent. The intervention is meant to increase knowledge and skills on GBV prevention and to increase the involvement of men in mitigation efforts. The project targets community leaders, including Dikgosi, Bahumagadi, Religious Leaders and Civil Society

Organisations.

106. It is important to acknowledge that more still needs to be done to ensure the effectiveness of GBV interventions, if we are to significantly improve the situation of women and girls in our country. We also need to prioritise investment in research to inform policy and strengthen partnerships.

D. People Living with Disabilities

107. Mister Speaker, we continue to improve the lives of our People Living with Disabilities and have implemented a series of measures in this regard. In August 2021, Botswana acceded to the Convention on the Rights of People Living with Disabilities (CPRD). Parliament recently adopted the Revised National Policy on Disability.

108. The construction of a Centre to cater for learners with Severe and Multiple Disability in Maun is expected to be completed in 2022. This is the first centre of its kind in Botswana, and it is designed to cater for learners who require more specialist assistance for their development.

109. The Special Education Policy is being reviewed to facilitate improvement of services offered to learners with special education needs. The review will be completed by January 2023. In addition National Health Rehabilitation Policy which advocates for specialised rehabilitation services for all, including people with disabilities, has been completed and is awaiting approval.

110. All these efforts are geared towards protecting the rights of People Living with Disability in Botswana and supporting them to fully participate in the country’s development.

111. Mister Speaker, on other issues of Social Upliftment, it is evident that group funding of Poverty Eradication projects is performing better than those funded individually. This is evidenced by the fact that most group funded projects are operational with notable achievements. Therefore, in the execution of the Poverty Eradication Programme, Government will lean towards group funding using appropriate business models, such as Cooperatives.

E. Rural Development

112. Mister Speaker, with the view to promote rural development and improve service delivery, Government is reviewing the Remote Area Development Programme (RADP) and evaluating the Affirmative Action Framework for Remote Area Communities. The development of a Decentralisation Policy is complete and is awaiting approval. A review of the 2002 Revised National Policy on Rural Development will also be undertaken.

113. The Ipelegeng programme is being transformed to make it more productive and sustainable. The re-engineered Ipelegeng will focus on maintenance of public facilities especially schools, erection and maintenance of cluster fences, de-bushing of international boundaries, construction of Kgotla shelters and implementation of other development projects. The programme also aims to empower beneficiaries through capacity building, skills development that will help them to earn a living, post Ipelegeng.

114. Mister Speaker, the provision of reliable electricity, water, broadband and roads is central to rural development. As such, we have increased rural electrification to 79 percent. This translates to a total of four hundred and forty-seven (447) out of a total of five hundred and four (504) gazetted villages having been electrified.

115. Through the Village Connectivity project, we will connect ICT services in five hundred and four (504) villages in Botswana by 2022/2023. The ICT services will be provided at Dikgotla, schools, health facilities, colleges and brigades. By the end of the current financial year, at least two hundred and three (203) villages will have been connected.

116. During the current financial year, eleven (11) villages will be connected to the national backbone infrastructure. This will be achieved through two projects in Sebina-Tutume and Takatokwane-Morwamosu areas.

117. We have made significant achievements in the provision of potable water in rural areas. Some of the major projects which will cover our rural areas include: the ShakaweGumare Water Treatment Plants; the connection of Kanye, Moshupa, and Thamaga to the North South Carrier (NSC); and the Masama-Mmamashia Water Pipeline, as earlier mentioned.

118. Other major projects which are under construction include the Mahalapye-Palapye Water Treatment Plant; North East and Tutume Sub District Water Supply Scheme; Lobatse Water Master Plan; Gaborone Water Master Plan; Selebi Phikwe - Serule Water Transfer Scheme; Mmamashia Treatment Plant Expansion, as well as Kanye and Moshupa Sanitation Projects.

F. Health and Wellness

119. Mister Speaker, with the advent of COVID-19, Government leveraged on its multiple collaborative partnerships to support the national COVID-19 response efforts. These partnerships address supply chain, health information technology, vaccine acquisition and deployment.

120. Botswana has done comparatively well, within the SubSaharan Africa region. The country is ahead with respect to COVID-19 testing as a result of strategic deployment and equitable distribution of testing equipment across the country. We are also among countries with the lowest fatality rates in the region due to a resilient health care system and compliance to COVID-19 health protocols. Furthermore, we intend to have vaccinated 64 percent of the eligible population by the end of 2021.

121. As of 1st of November, approximately seven hundred and forty five thousand (745 000) people had taken their first dose of vaccine, while close to three hundred and twenty five thousand (325 000) had been fully vaccinated. So far, around one hundred and ninety three thousand (193 000) people contracted the disease. Of these, one hundred and eighty eight thousand (188 000) recovered, while two thousand and four hundred and seven (2 407) succumbed to the disease. As at current, there are two thousand five hundred and twenty eight active cases.

122. In preparation for a possible fourth wave, we will continue to enforce adherence to COVID-19 protocols through aggressive information and education campaigns. In the same vein, work on improving resilience of the response through provision of Oxygen Plants, ventilators, concentrators and training of high care health workers in District and Primary Hospitals will continue.

123. Mister Speaker, the war against the HIV/AIDS has not stopped. Our resolve to eliminate new infections by 2030 is still intact. With the intention to reduce the cost of administering the HIV treatment programme, Government is weighing options that will help reduce the cost of the programme by up to 50 percent.

124. We also continue to put equal emphasis on HIV prevention efforts that prioritise population groups more at risk of contracting HIV; such as, female sex workers, adolescent girls and young women, as well as people with disabilities, among others. Government will also continue to prioritise districts with a higher disease burden in provision of HIV services. More emphasis will be put on other key elements of our HIV prevention strategy such as behaviour change, condom use, voluntary male medical circumcision and the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP).

125. Mister Speaker, Primary Health Care remains the corner stone for delivering equitable and community centred integrated health services. In November 2020, the National Guidelines for implementation of Integrated Community Based Health Services were launched and are being implemented. The Guidelines promote a multi-sectoral approach to health care delivery and offer a localised minimum package to each patient.

126. Due to the success of Botswana-Baylor Partnership, the partnership was expanded to cover a comprehensive Paediatric Haematology and Oncology (PHO) initiative. The PHO initiative will improve survival rate for children with cancer and blood disorders. A vaccine manufacturing partnership in Botswana is also being planned for.

127. Allow me to inform that some of the revenue from the Alcohol Levy is being utilised for the construction of a Rehabilitation Centre in Serowe. The facility will be used for the treatment of substance abuse.

SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT

128. Mister Speaker, achieving sustainable environment is anchored on ensuring sustainable use of natural resources, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, improving access to water and sanitation, management of wildlife species and protection of wildlife habitat.

A. Climate Change

129. We remain committed to the reduction of national carbon emissions to 15 percent by 2030. In this regard, Climate

Change Policy was adopted by Parliament in April 2021. The Policy promotes access to carbon markets, climate finance and clean technologies such as, solar energy. I am pleased to inform you that Botswana managed to mobilise thirty million United States Dollars (U$30m) in 2021 from the Green Climate Fund to implement agriculture related adaptation interventions, particularly in Ngamiland, Bobirwa and Kgalagadi districts.

130. In an effort to continue reducing the effects of climate change, Government is rolling out the Biogas Technology Programme. This programme aims to deliver small-scale digester plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one million six hundred and fifty thousand (1 650 000 million) tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2023. So far, ninety seven (97) small-scale bio-digesters have been constructed in the Southern and Kgatleng districts. The gas is used for cooking, lighting and heating.

131. The level of ambient air quality in the country stands at 95 percent, demonstrating that Batswana continue to breathe good quality air. Government has expanded the air qualitymonitoring network to cover Tsabong, Ghanzi, Kasane and Tamasane. We have also developed standards to monitor emission concentrations in the country.

B. Community management of natural resources

132. Mister Speaker, promotion of community-based projects for the sustainable management of natural resources, remains a priority for Government. Some of the projects undertaken include, the development of; Motlhware Community Game Reserve in Letlhakeng, Old Ngoma campsite for PALEKA in Chobe, MOKOPI Predator Park in Mokoboxane and upgrading of the Lake Ngami charcoal production project. All these will be completed before the end of this financial year. Capacity building for Community Trusts to ensure effective utilization of natural resources through photographic tourism and hunting is being undertaken.

133. In an effort to enhance value chains and economic activities for Batswana, the Guidelines to allow our people to keep game in their fields (masimo) were launched in April 2021. This initiative is part of economic diversification and empowers citizens to participate in agro tourism and has been opened since 1st May 2021 and Government continues to receive applications. I want to encourage Batswana to take advantage of this dispensation and to care for their land to maximise benefit.

134. Mister Speaker, poaching remains one of the biggest threats to our biodiversity. Since April 2019, a total of one hundred (100) animals comprising different species such as; elephants, rhinos and various antelopes were poached, compared to one hundred and fifty one (151) in 2018. A review of the National Anti-Poaching Strategy was completed in October 2021 with the overall objective to curb organized poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

135. Another challenge is the issue of human-wildlife conflict. Our mitigation efforts include; provision of water to elephants and other wildlife to reduce their movements into communal areas, particularly in Nata/Gweta and North East areas. Government is also equipping new boreholes and constructing water holes in the Ngwasha area. The Elephant Management Strategy and its Action Plan was launched on 30th April 2021. Key highlights of the Strategy include intensification and rollout of human-elephant conflict mitigation measures, especially the use of cluster fencing and provision of water.

136. A 60 kilometre non-lethal electric fence along the western Makgadikgadi National Park boundary will be officially commissioned before the end of this year. The fence will reduce incidences of human-wildlife conflict in Boteti area. Another non-lethal forty kilometre (40 km) electric fence is being constructed near Mathathane and Tsetsebjwe villages.

C. Waste management and sanitation

137. Mister Speaker, waste has significant socio-economic benefits when converted to valuable products. In August 2021, Parliament approved an Integrated Waste Management Policy to promote sustainable waste management. It also deliberately empowers our people to derive value out of waste through value chains especially in reuse, recycling and reduction.

138. Currently, 77 percent of the population has access to basic sanitation services, while 11 percent of the population does not have access to any form of sanitation facilities. To improve the situation and curb water pollution, biodegradable toilets are being installed as a pilot project in Ghanzi, Kweneng and South East Districts during this financial year.

GOVERNANCE, PEACE AND SECURITY

139. Mister Speaker, our development as a country is premised on Participatory Democracy; Rule of Law; Transparency and Accountability; Public Safety and Protection; as well as, International Relations and Cooperation.

A. Governance

140. Mister Speaker, Government continues to enhance service delivery in the Judiciary. Our efforts include amongst others, increasing the location of courts across the country to bring justice closer to the people. Three new magistrate courts were established at Kasane, Takatokwane and Mogoditshane in 2021. An additional Division of the High Court was established in Maun.

141. Furthermore, to improve turnaround time, the High Court Rules were amended to incorporate written Judicial Standards for delivery of Rulings and Judgements. In this regard, the Chief Justice has been empowered to issue Practice Directives for the expedited management and set down cases of exceptional public importance.

142. With regard to regulating labour relations, progress has been made on the review of labour laws. Consultations among Government, employers and workers’ representatives have been concluded and drafting of instructions has commenced. The objective of the review is to close gaps, facilitate ease of doing business, comply with various decisions of the Courts, and align it with International Labour Standards.

143. In strengthening transparency and accountability, in August 2021 Parliament amended the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Act to increase its scope, amongst other things. The Act obliges all those involved in procurement to make a declaration of their assets and liabilities.

Mister Speaker, the envisaged constitutional review is a delicate and intricate process that requires careful reflection and consideration before it is embarked upon. I wish to emphasise that, as Batswana take part in this important national exercise, they must be free and constructive. However, the process of constitutional review has been delayed largely by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. I will appoint Commissioners to lead the process by midDecember this year.

144. Mister Speaker, the Ombudsman Bill Number 19 of 2021 was passed by Parliament to amend the Ombudsman Act to confer a Human Rights mandate on the office of the Ombudsman. Preparations are ongoing to capacitate the Ombudsman Office to carry out its additional responsibility in the next financial year.

B. Transparency and Accountability

145. Mister Speaker, I am elated to inform you that Botswana has been removed from the international monetary watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), grey-list following her compliance with the Task Force Standards. We continue to strengthen national anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism measures. In this regard, Government has stepped up the regulation of legal entities/arrangements through risk based supervision and monitoring.

146. As a result of these improvements, assets worth over Two Hundred Million Pula (P200 million) have been traced and referred to Directorate of Public Prosecutions for restraint applications for possible forfeiture or release. It is imperative that we all work collaboratively to keep our guard high and ensure we improve and never ever revert to grey listing status.

C. Public Safety and Security

147. Mister Speaker, we have achieved milestones in curbing the transnational and clandestine crime of human trafficking. I am happy to inform this Honourable House that Botswana has maintained a ranking of Tier 2 out of four (4) possible Tiers in the 2021 international rankings. The annual

Trafficking in Persons Report of 2020, by the United States

Department of State has commended Botswana for increasing her efforts to guard against the crime. Botswana has improved by two points in the Global Peace Index and the country is ranked 41st, globally.

148. Ongoing legislative amendments to the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2014, planned capacitation of our judiciary and other officials within the criminal justice system, and the development of a new Anti-Human

Trafficking National Action Plan in 2022 will ensure that we continue to protect our people from the highly debilitating effects of human trafficking.

149. Mister Speaker, during the year 2020, offences relating to property declined by 9 percent. However, those against the person and against morality increased by 5.9% and 7.8 percent, respectively. The latter comprise defilement of persons under the age of 18 which increased by 51.1 percent. In this regard, the Police Service has adopted strategies to address this worrying development. I call upon all legislators, as leaders, to condemn and take action against this worrying trend.

150. The issue of livestock rustling in the Bobirwa Constituency, along the Botswana/Zimbabwe border is cause for concern and has potential to threaten the livelihoods of our people. To address the situation, a Commission of Enquiry has been established and started its assignment in October 2021. The Commission will engage the affected communities and other key stakeholders to make appropriate recommendations on the mitigation measures. The

Commission will deliver its report by the end of this month.

Livestock rustling is not by any means limited to Bobirwa. Government will endeavor to engage with all our affected neighbors to address this organized crime.

151. While technology advancement is positive, it also has challenges, with cybercrime becoming more prominent. In this regard, Government will continue to facilitate the Botswana Police Service by capacitating it with the resources and expertise required to deal with this evolving digital crime.

152. A Communication Computer Incidence Response Team (COMM-CIRT) was therefore, established to monitor cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. Thus, a number of cybersecurity incidents have been foiled. Furthermore, the National Computer Incidence Response Team is being established to enhance information sharing across the economy.

D. International Relations and Cooperation

153. Mister Speaker, since 2019, Botswana has made notable achievements in international relations and cooperation.

Regional cooperation remains the cornerstone of Botswana’s foreign policy, underpinned by development, democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights.

154. In that regard, the country has continued to cooperate with its neighbours, through various bilateral mechanisms, as well as her membership to the Southern African

Development Community (SADC). Botswana took over the Chairmanship of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security in 2020 to 2021. As the outgoing Chair, she will remain in the Organ Troika until August 2022.

155. As I have previously stated, our national peace and security cannot flourish if our region, Africa and the world are in conflict. It is in this regard that Botswana participates in initiatives that are aimed at resolving the political situation in Eswatini and the SADC Standby Force in Mozambique. This is a demonstration of our eagerness to promote regional peace and security.

156. The Government of Botswana is concerned about human rights violations and political instability in some parts of Africa. Therefore we continue to encourage conflicting parties in those countries to resolve their political differences amicably. The Government of Botswana condemns in the strongest terms possible, the coup d’etat in Sudan. We also call upon the Government of Ethiopia to exercise restraint and commit to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in their country.

157. We are actively pursuing hosting the Kimberley Process (KP) Secretariat, an institution that promotes diamonds for development. As you will recall, Botswana is a founding member and supporter of the Kimberly Process and hosting the Secretariat will give us the opportunity to advance its agenda.

158. Meanwhile, Botswana holds the following positions and roles:

• Member and President of Economic and Social Council

(ECOSOC) - January 2020- December 2022;

• Scheme - March 2020-March 2022;

Member and Vice-President of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board - January 2019-December 2021;

• Member of the Commission on Population and Development- 2021-2025.

• Vice President of the Bureau of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN)

• Member of the Compliance and Mediation Committee of the International Federation Committee of the Red Cross and Crescent Societies.

159. In addition, we are a member of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

160. We also have Batswana holding high positions at various inter-governmental organisations, such as; Special Advisor of the African Union Commissioner on Culture, World Health Organization (Africa Region); the African Development Bank (ADB), and the World Bank (WB).

CONCLUSION

161. In conclusion, Mister Speaker, the unity of the people of Botswana and its leadership remains critical to nation building. I therefore urge Batswana and leaders to continue working in unison for the prosperity of our country. I want to reiterate that Government is committed to achieving a knowledge-based economy, driven by digitilisation, which will no doubt transform Botswana to a high income country

by 2036. Our efforts, as we move forward will be driven through, among others, the Reset agenda.

162. Sir Winston Churchill once said, ‘never waste a good crisis’. This is the Mindset Change of seeing opportunities in the worst personal or national situations. COVID-19 affected all of us, and we have lost our loved ones. The pandemic has reminded us that, united we can stand. It has reinforced one of our national principles of self-reliance, ‘letsema le

thata ka mong’. It taught us to reprioritise import substitution. Let us use these lessons to attain greater heights of productivity going forward.

163. Bagaetsho, as it is the ploughing season, I urge all of you to take advantage of the early rains to increase crop production and contribute to food security for this nation. With the envisaged ‘new agricultural programme’ to replace ISPAAD, I can assure you that, better times for agricultural production are coming.

164. Please continue adhering to the health protocols of social distancing, wearing face masks appropriately and washing your hands with water and soap and also sanitizing.

I thank you.

Editor's Comment
Isn’t There A Better Way?

Issues of land have always been complicated, and have presented headaches for land overseers. Hence, there have to be ways the Land Boards can address issues of land disputes that will not leave citizens homeless, stranded, humiliated or stripped of their dignity.Yes, it seems talks between the Land Board and Kootsenye Babo, the rightful owner of the land did occur. She admits that she did get compensation at some point in time. These are tough...

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