Members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi visited Selebi Phikwe to appreciate projects undertaken by the Selebi Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) to accelerate the diversification of the economy of the region
Giving an overview about SPEDU, the chief executive officer, Dr Mokubung Mokubung said his organisation covers Mmadinare, Tswapong North and Bobirwa areas, and that their mandate was to carry out business as a regional economic diversification agency that facilitates sustainable economic growth.
He said SPEDU was currently pursuing several projects which include the electrification of Motloutse farms, construction of the Platjaan Bridge, refurbishment of the Selebi Phikwe Airport, agro processing plant, steel manufacturing plant and a business management plan for Dikgatlhong and Letsibogo dams.
He said he was optimistic that the farms electrification project would boost the agriculture sector and turn the Selebi Phikwe region into the bread basket of the country.
He noted that the electrification project entailed connecting 44 farms along the Motloutse River at a cost of P9 million.
Regarding the Platjaan Bridge project between Botswana and South Africa in the Bobirwa area, Dr Mokubung said P100 million has been budgeted for the project.
He said the project would help diversify the economy of the region as it would open gates for more travellers and boost the tourism sector in the region.
He said the project was expected to commence in the first quarter of 2016, and that more jobs would be created.
He further highlighted that P14, 7 million has been budgeted for the refurbishment of the airport, adding that the project was completed in September and that the airport was ready for use. He also stated that they were expecting the national airline to operate in the area.
Giving an overview of Pula Steel, the first steel manufacturing plant in Botswana, Dr Mokubung said the project was expected to create 1 000 jobs when in full swing.
He said P89 million was invested on the project, and that the plant would produce 240 tons of billet per day using recycled metal.
On the scope of the horticulture processing plant, the acting managing director of NFTRC said the plant would produce processed horticultural goods such as tomato sauce, bottled pickles and other canned foods from horticulture fields.
He said the four main success factors that affect fresh produce in the market were the price, quality, quantity and continuity of supply. He added that limited production leads to poor turn over.
He said the plant would utilise about 10 per cent of local production, and that it would also develop skilled entrepreneurs in agro processing and reduce the import bill of about P2 million.
The plant will pickle 1 000kg of vegetables per hour, dry 200kg per hour and process 500kg of fruit per hour.
The project will create a market for agric produce, create employment and help diversify the economy for sustainable development.