Pula Steel to boost economy - PHK

SHARE   |   Sunday, 20 July 2014   |   By Shingirai Madondo
Verma Verma

Steel manufacturing envisaged for the copper mining and smelting township of Selibe-Phikwe will definitely boost the economy of the township and that of the country, Vice President, Ponatsheko Kedikilwe revealed.

In his keynote address at the groundbreaking ceremony of Pula Steel and Casting Manufacturers on Thursday in Selibe-Phikwe, Kedikilwe described the event as an important milestone towards government’s strategic objectives of economic diversification.

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“The envisaged project will further enhance the economy of Selibe-Phikwe and by extension enhancing the entire economy,” said Kedikilwe at a gathering that officially marked the beginning of a journey that started as a simple dream.

Kedikilwe said the project is not only critical to the country’s economic development but also entails many ripple effects like immense contribution towards human capital development through skills transfer.

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According to Kedikilwe, steel is a basic commodity which is required by any economy. The high demand for steel can be attributed to infrastructural developments, mining and construction  to just mention but a few, said Kedikilwe.

Due to the increased number of economic projects in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, the country’s second citizen further stated that supply is quickly surpassed by demand.

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“This is evident in the volume of traffic that traverses our country transporting steel,” said Kedikilwe in reference to haulage trucks that pass through the country to other countries since it is a landlocked country.

He said International Trade Statistics indicate that SADC imported steel worth about P47.1 billion (US$5.3 billion) in the year 2013 alone. The demand for steel in Botswana amounted to P2.6 billion in 2013.

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Kedikilwe added that the demand for steel was met by importing from a number of countries with the neighboring South Africa being the largest source of imported steel at 50percent followed by China with 40percent.

“Billions spend on importing steel will in the near future circulate within the country. There will be also the potential of other SADC countries importing steel from Botswana – a development that will result in job creation and economic growth,” said the vice president.

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A P2.6 billion import bill for steel has made Botswana a net importer of steel at a very high premium, he said. As a result, Kedikilwe said several projects have been delivered at exorbitant costs.

“In this regard, Pula Steel brings hope and has the potential to assist in mitigating costs of some public infrastructural projects by supplying locally produced steel of comparative and competitive quality,” he said.

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For his part, Pula Steel Manufacturing CEO Ranvir Verma said the his company proposed integrated steel manufacturing and casting business in order to minimize exorbitant costs of importing steel from other countries.

Selibe-Phikwe Town Council (SPTC) mayor Tebogo Matlhogonolo said the development gives the township a ray of an economic hope. Matlhogonolo said the township will do everything to ensure that the strategy becomes a reality.

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Dan Mahupela, the BCL General Manager said Kedikilwe asked the economic promoters in Selibe-Phikwe what they were going to do about the ever imposed death penalty on the township.

“This is the beginning of a big dream that BCL has got for the community of Selibe-Phikwe and the rest of the country,” said Mahupela, adding that BCL is going to transform the meager-looking township of Selibe-Phikwe into a fully-fledged city.



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