Lobatse Mayor, Ms Malebogo Kruger says construction of Milk Afric is at 74% and is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Ms Kruger (pictured right) said the residents of Lobatse welcomed the development as it would provide the town with employment when operations begin in 2019. The project is expected to substantially reduce Botswana’s milk import bill.
Meanwhile, the Mayor said preparatory works for the construction of yet another heavily delayed project, Lobatse’s a leather park are at an advanced stage. She noted that preliminary works for the environmental impact assessment, environmental management plan and appointment of a project management team and technical advisors had been completed.
Furthermore, Ms Kruger said the leather park project has the potential to contribute significantly to the economy of Lobatse as well as playing a critical role in developing the leather industry in Botswana.
I had totally forgotten about the Milk Afric project! I first reported on it about three years ago and haven’t heard anything since. The same actually goes for the Lobatse Leather Park. Even back then, some of my fellow journalists were frustrated with the milk project because it had been stopping and starting going as far back as 2014 when it was first introduced! So I can only hope both the Milk Afric and Leather Park projects will finally take off next year. Lord knows the people of Lobatse have been waiting long enough for both.
Once operational, the Lobatse Milk project is expected to produce 30,000 litres of milk a day. Last year, Lobatse Mayor, Ms Kruger enthusiastically said;
“It has been a very tough journey up to this moment but I am happy that we have finally gone through to the groundbreaking.”
But in the same breathe, she expressed her disappointment at the long delay in getting the project started;
“The Milk Afric project has taken too long but it is not because the investor failed. The investor met the challenges. He waited for three years for the Environmental Impact Assessment report,” Kruger said.
Since its introduction in 2014, the project under the directorship of agronomist Philemon Matibe has been stalled by several hurdles, which have resulted in the delay in the start of the production. At One point, production was planned to start in April 2017, but that came and went.
Milk Afric sent students to Florida, USA for training at the tune of P300,000 in tuition fees per student. The Milk Afric project is valued at P120 million and is expected to create 250 jobs in its first two-and-half years. Milk Afric, which has signed a processing agreement with Parmalat, has also roped in the Lobatse Town Council as they entered into a Public Private Partnership deal through the leasing of a dairy farm for 25 years.
On paper, it looks like the Milk Afric project could truly transform the economy and lives of the people of Lobatse. So we can only hope that both the Milk Afric Afric and Lobatse Leather Park project take off in 2019.