The Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA), the developer and regulator of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the country, has taken a giant leap ahead of most State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) by publishing its first ever Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles report.

According to Corporate Finance Institute, ESG is a framework that helps stakeholders understand how an organisation is managing risks and opportunities related to environmental, social, and governance criteria, sometimes called ESG factors. The Authority ESG report card, is contained in the parastatal’s main annual report for the 2022/2023 financial year which was recently released. “The Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA), which among others is responsible for attracting investors into Special Economic Zones (SEZs) considers that ESG principles are integral to attracting and retaining long-term investors who will transform the economic landscape of our country,“ reads part of the report.

The Authority, which is headed by Lonely Mogara, further explained that it is imperative that its role extends beyond economic development, diversification and industrial growth. SEZA went further to state that, the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) which were promulgated in 2015, essentially urge all to comply with ESG principles. Furthermore, the 4 Pillars of the Botswana Vision 2036 document are all aligned to sustainable environments & communities as well as promotion of good governance which ESG principles promote. “SEZA’s unique position as a driver of economic transformation empowers us to influence not only the business landscape but also the well-being of our people and the environment,” said the report.

Meanwhile, during the year under review, SEZA carried out a number of activities, ranging from social, environmental and governance which were geared towards promoting ESG principles. “The SEZA Board of Directors, Executive Management and Staff, are duty bound to ensure that ESG principles are integrated into our investment processes and operating philosophy,“ said the annual report. SEZA, has eight SEZs spread across the country. The Authority, which falls under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has stressed, companies, which will be licensed on its zones, are expected to be ESG complaint. One of the licensed SEZs companies, which is already complying with the Authority’s ESG framework is Botala Energy. The latter last week listed on Botswana Stock Exchange venture board. Botala Energy is a gas exploration and development company which aspires to be a clean energy producer using the coal bed methane (CBM) potential of the Serowe Project in Botswana and combining it with solar power generation.

According to the Botala Energy, the higher quality of water produced at the Serowe project as part of the de-watering process segues into Botala’s ESG policy statement governing its values. As part of this, the company

seeks to derive as much value as possible through the value chain of the gas field, which includes looking at options to use the water for things like crops rather than just letting it evaporate. “We don’t want to be just a gas player, we actually want to set ourselves up as a company that is going to stick around and add value through integrating into the strategic plans that Botswana has in place,” Chief Executive Officer, Kris Martinick was quoted.

“Our vision is not to just to supply the gas and provide some form of energy security, but is actually how we review their plans – which we have done – and say to the Botswana government, look we have reviewed all your plans, here’s what we think we can support and where we can’t." He added that the company also wants to impact the UN’s 17 sustainability goals and has done assessments to ensure that what it does involves the community.