Parastatal faces challenges in attracting investment
Almost three years on from the BCL Mine’s closure, SPEDU’s efforts to attract investment to the country’s eastern region face impediment from a number of obstacles.
Formed in 2008 to lead Selebi Phikwe’s diversification drive, the Government-owned company have found it difficult to fulfill their mandate – a directive broadened in 2014 to include the Bobirwa and Tswapong areas.
It’s birth was motivated by the fact that the BCL mine, which formed the region’s backbone, would not last forever – a point that came to pass in October 2016 when the copper mine shut down, rendering more than 5, 000 individuals unemployed overnight.
According to SPEDU CEO, Dr Mokubung Mokubung, the company faces numerous challenges in carrying out its mandate.
Key among them is the lack of serviced land in Phikwe.
However, Mokubung says the relevant land authorities are in the process of addressing this.
“Selebi Phikwe has a land bank comprising 25 pieces of land measuring 528.6 hectares categorised as commercial, agriculture, tourism, heavy industry and free enterprise zones,” announced the CEO recently.
Another challenge that SPEDU encounters in its bid to bring investments to the area is shortage of factory shells.
Mokubung explained that the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) factory shells are targeted by investors mainly because of their cost advantage of P6.50 per square metres as opposed to P47 per square metres charged on the open market.
“Private factory shell space is inadequate in size for companies that have shown interest, he said, adding, “About 27 companies have shown interest thus far.”
With the construction of a P110 million bridge over Limpopo River linking South Africa and Botswana set for completion in August, SPEDU is confident this will bring more investments to the region.
However, the lack of a tarred road linking the bridge to the nearest serviced road is likely to pose a problem.
It is estimated that over P200 million would be needed to construct a 30km tarred road connecting the bridge to Bobirwa and Selebi Phikwe.
Meanwhile, SPEDU says it aims to create employment for 7, 000 people in the beleaguered region although admits to only creating 1, 569 jobs since 2017.
Despite the difficulties it faces, Mokubung declared SPEDU is targeting P2 billion worth of investment.
He revealed the parastatal was working with 54 companies on various projects, including in manufacturing, agriculture, information technology and construction.