Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi Highlights Achievements and Future Plans in State of the Nation Address

Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi Highlights Achievements And Future Plans In State Of The Nation Address

Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi delivered a State of the Nation Address during the opening of the country’s Parliament, outlining the government’s successes and ambitious plans ahead of the upcoming elections next year. In his address, President Masisi emphasised the importance of various sectors, including tourism, agriculture, mining, real estate, creative industries, sport, manufacturing, science and technology, and the digital economy.

One of the notable achievements mentioned by President Masisi was the successful restriction of vegetable imports from South Africa, which resulted in a significant reduction in the country’s import bill. He further pledged to invest funds derived from De Beers into agriculture and tourism, aiming to achieve “prosperity for all” by 2036.

President Masisi also highlighted the government’s efforts to digitise services and improve online accessibility for citizens. Plans are underway to enable online applications for national identification cards, passports, social benefit grants, driver’s licenses, and other services. The government has engaged youth-led companies to provide e-commerce-related activities and is working towards implementing an electronic medical records system in the e-health sector by March 2024. Additionally, initiatives in e-learning, e-commerce, and other internet-based services aim to integrate various aspects of life in Botswana.

In terms of connectivity, the government has successfully connected 1,138 public facilities in 144 villages to high-speed internet, benefiting around half a million people in a population of 2.4 million.

Regarding the agriculture sector, President Masisi expressed plans to create a horticultural market by April next year, promoting wider citizen participation in agribusiness and associated value chains. Efforts to liberalise the beef business and enhance local production of meat and milk through artificial insemination programs were also highlighted.

Diamonds remain a crucial source of foreign exchange for Botswana, and the revised contracts with the De Beers Group are expected to generate significant revenue for the state. The Diamond Development Fund is projected to accumulate P10 billion over the next decade, benefiting other sectors of the economy such as tourism, hospitality, agriculture, research, and development.

Furthermore, Botswana will host the Kimberley Process Permanent Secretariat, a global regulator of the diamond mining industry, starting in January next year. President Masisi sees this as a testament to the international community’s confidence in Botswana’s governance processes.

The government is also focused on boosting the tourism sector, with plans to transform the Chobe area into a high-value tourism destination through the Kasane-Kazungula redevelopment project. Various international events and festivals held in Botswana, including the Toyota Gazoo, Desert Race, Makgadikgadi Epic, and Kazungula Marathon, are expected to attract more visitors to the country.

President Masisi emphasised Botswana’s commitment to establishing itself as a preferred destination for hosting meetings, conferences, exhibitions, and incentives. Hosting these events brings numerous benefits to sectors such as hotels, hospitality, retail, and transportation.

In conclusion, President Masisi’s State of the Nation Address highlighted the government’s achievements in various sectors and its plans for future development. The focus on agriculture, tourism, digitisation, and the diamond industry reflects Botswana’s commitment to economic growth and prosperity.


Source: News24

Kenya Sends Farm Workers to Israel to Address Labour Shortage

Kenya Sends Farm Workers To Israel To Address Labour Shortage

Kenya’s labour ministry has announced that it will send 1,500 farm workers to Israel, following in the footsteps of Malawi, which sent 221 young people to work on Israeli farms recently. The workers will be deployed on renewable three-year contracts with a guaranteed net monthly income of $1,500. Israel has turned to Africa to fill the labour gap on its farms after the departure of over 10,000 foreign workers, primarily from Thailand, due to the war with Hamas. The country has also restricted the entry of Palestinian workers, who formerly comprised nearly 20% of the agricultural labour force. Israel’s ambassador in Kenya stated that plans are underway to recruit farm workers from Uganda, while recruitment in Tanzania has already begun. Concerns have been raised about the workers’ safety and the working conditions they may face in Israel, given previous reports of unsafe practices and poor living conditions for migrant farm workers. However, Israel has implemented additional measures to ensure fair treatment of foreign workers and has stated that they enjoy the same employment rights as Israeli citizens. The move has received mixed reactions in Kenya, with some viewing it as an opportunity for much-needed jobs, while others express concerns about workers’ welfare in a conflict-prone region.


Source: BBC

Edinburgh Sees Increase in Approved Housing Plans Replaced by Student Accommodation, Raising Concerns

Edinburgh Sees Increase In Approved Housing Plans Replaced By Student Accommodation, Raising Concerns

Heritage organisation, the Cockburn Association, has raised concerns over a growing trend in Edinburgh where approved housing plans are being scrapped in favour of student accommodation after receiving consent for mainstream homes. The association views this shift as worrying and indicative of investors prioritising the more lucrative market for Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA).

Terry Levinthal, Director of the Cockburn Association, noted that housing consents are frequently changing to PBSA proposals immediately after approval. The association cited an example at 27 Arthur Street, where objections were raised against the change to student accommodation from the initially approved scheme of 33 apartments. The Cockburn Association believes that the approved development could have accommodated students, addressing the needs of non-first-year students seeking traditional flats to share with friends.

The housing crisis in the city, which encompasses student housing, has led to concerns about the shift from approved mainstream housing to specific and inflexible student bedsits. Rising mortgage rates and frozen private rents for traditional landlord properties appear to be pushing investors towards the more profitable PBSA market. However, this trend may not be in the best interest of the city’s already pressurised housing market in the long run.

This issue has come to light following the revelation that approved plans for homes on Willowbrae Road have been replaced with proposals for student accommodation. Developers submitted new plans for a block of 138 student beds, superseding previously consented proposals for a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom flats.

Local MPs and the community have expressed disbelief that a viable proposal for homes would be exchanged for student accommodation, particularly when the city is facing a housing emergency. Recent figures revealed that student accommodation accounts for over a quarter of all developments granted permission in the Capital.

The Cockburn Association and concerned citizens are urging the city council to address this issue, especially in light of the severe shortage of social rented homes, escalating private rental costs, and record levels of homelessness. The council has been approached for comment on the matter.


Source: Edinburgh News

Burkina Faso Adopts Bill Making National Languages Official, Demoting French to Working Language

Burkina Faso Adopts Bill Making National Languages Official, Demoting French To Working Language

The Burkinabè government has passed a bill revising the Constitution, officially recognising national languages as the country’s official languages, while relegating French to the status of a “working language.” The bill, which is part of the transitional government’s mission to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, aims to initiate political, administrative, and institutional reforms.

Among the significant changes introduced by the bill is the establishment of national languages as official languages, replacing French. This move follows a similar decision made earlier this year by Mali, which also modified its Constitution to downgrade French to a working language.

The bill, which still requires approval from the Transitional Legislative Assembly, also includes provisions for the establishment of traditional and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Furthermore, the bill expands the missions of the Constitutional Council while abolishing institutions such as the High Court of Justice, responsible for judging senior political figures, and the Mediator of Faso.

The National Intelligence Agency (ANR), a powerful agency, has its status reinforced and protected by being enshrined in the Constitution.

In recent months, demonstrations advocating for a new Constitution have taken place in Burkina Faso. Captain Ibrahim Traoré, who assumed power in September 2022, had pledged to partially modify the Constitution two months ago.

Prime Minister Apollinaire Joachimson Kyelem of Tambela stated that the writing of a new Constitution is essential for political, economic, and cultural sovereignty. Burkina Faso aims to move away from foreign concepts and establish its own identity. These changes reflect a shift in the country’s relationship with France, its former colonial power, and a move towards closer ties with Moscow.

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been grappling with violence perpetrated by jihadist groups, which have also affected neighbouring Mali and Niger, resulting in a death toll of over 17,000 people.


Source: Africa News

Seychelles Declares State of Emergency After Flooding and Explosions

Seychelles Explosion Floods

Seychelles, a small island nation in the Indian Ocean, declared a state of emergency following a massive blast at an explosives depot, which occurred after deadly flooding hit the country. Three people lost their lives in the flooding, according to the president.

The explosion took place in the industrial area of Providence, located around 7 kilometres southeast of the capital, Victoria, on the main island of Mahe. Over 100 individuals were injured, and buildings were destroyed while trees were flattened in the vicinity. The blast was followed by heavy rain and flooding that affected the northern part of Mahe, causing flooding, washed-out roads, and landslides.

President Wavel Ramkalawan announced the state of emergency, ordering the closure of schools and instructing people to stay at home to allow emergency services and essential workers to carry out their duties. The blast resulted in massive damage, while the floods caused major destruction.

Ramkalawan later confirmed that three people died due to the heavy rain and flooding, and 125 individuals sustained injuries from the blast. Many buildings were partially or completely destroyed, leaving a large crater. Families have been forced to evacuate their homes due to safety concerns.

The president expressed shock at the aftermath of the incident, describing it as akin to a war zone. An investigation will be conducted to determine if the construction company housing the explosives followed proper storage precautions.

While the international airport and ferry services between islands continue to operate, allowing essential travel during the state of emergency, Seychelles’ tourism industry, a major economic sector, may be impacted. The country is known for its natural beauty and is located off the east coast of Africa.

Flooding and heavy rainfall have affected several countries in the East African region, leading to loss of life and displacement of millions of people. Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan have all experienced severe floods exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon. The death toll in the region has surpassed 130 individuals.


Source: ABC News

UK Immigration Minister Resigns Over Rwanda Asylum Transfer Legislation

Cabinet Meeting At Downing Street In London

In a significant development, UK Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has resigned over the government’s proposed legislation regarding the Rwanda asylum transfer scheme. Jenrick stated that the new law “does not go far enough” in providing sufficient safeguards for the success of the policy. The government’s plan to transfer certain asylum seekers to Rwanda has faced extensive legal challenges since its announcement in April 2022. Despite the UK Supreme Court ruling the scheme unlawful, successive Home Secretaries have attempted to push it forward.

Jenrick, who serves within the Home Office, expressed his inability to support the latest draft bill through the legislative process, citing the need for stronger protections to prevent ongoing legal challenges that could hinder the scheme and undermine its intended deterrent effect. His resignation letter emphasised the high stakes involved in addressing illegal migration to the UK effectively.

Previously, Jenrick had publicly pledged to take any necessary measures to tackle illegal migration, including the possibility of withdrawing from the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). Some hardliner lawmakers within the Conservative Party, including former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, have advocated for the UK’s departure from the ECHR, arguing that it hampers the Rwanda policy.

The government’s newly unveiled legislation did not withdraw the UK from the ECHR but included a crucial caveat. Home Secretary James Cleverley acknowledged on the first page of the bill that he could not guarantee its compatibility with Convention rights. The bill also disallowed specific sections of the UK Human Rights Act, which incorporates ECHR rights into domestic law. Furthermore, a clause asserted the bill’s sovereignty and its independence from key international law instruments, including the ECHR and the Refugee Convention.

The opposition Labour Party strongly criticised the legislation, highlighting that this is the third draft presented by the government. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper described the government as being in a state of “total chaos” and called for a focus on combating criminal gangs involved in smuggling people into the UK.

Legal experts, including Professor Mark Elliot of the University of Cambridge, have also voiced criticism. Elliot argued that the bill is “hypocritical” as it assumes Rwanda’s compliance with international law obligations to treat asylum seekers humanely while allowing the UK to potentially breach its own obligations.

The Rwandan government issued a warning to the UK, threatening to withdraw from the partnership if the UK fails to adhere to international law. Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta emphasised that without lawful behaviour by the UK, Rwanda would not be able to continue the Migration and Economic Development Partnership.

The next step for the bill is its debate in parliament during the “second reading” stage, where UK lawmakers will discuss its merits and potential implications.


Source: CNN