Stanbic Bank Botswana has clinched a multimillion contract for payments of internship allowance which had traditionally been held by First National Bank Botswana, the country’s largest commercial bank.
Stanbic, the third largest bank in Botswana by profitability, has been engaged to facilitate payment of allowances for participants of Tirelo Sechaba, National Internship and Graduate Volunteer scheme (GVS), according to ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture (MYSEC).
The three programs were designed and introduced for youth graduates to gain work skills and provide temporary employment to a nation besieged by soaring unemployment.
In October 2020, the Tirelo Sechaba and National Internship programmes had enrolled a total of 15,724 against the targeted 22,400, translating to 71 percent enrolment. Out of this number, the Tirelo Sechaba enrolled 12,534 against a target of 15,000 while the National Internship Programme enrolled 3, 190 against a target of 6, 000.
The ministry explained that the drop in enrolment last year was due to suspension of placement following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Interest on the National Internship programme continues to be high as evidenced by the waiting list of 8,552 applicants as of October 2020. The programme is currently being reviewed to determine the way forward regarding its administration,” minister Tumiso Rakgare said in March when requesting funds for the programmes.
Stanbic Bank Botswana stands to generate revenue from facilitating the payments from the multimillion contract, earning it through banking user fees, in addition to thousands of new account holders set to become the bank’s clientele.
The youth ministry spent P156.8 million in the 2020/2021 financial year on national service and internship programmes. For the 2021/2022 financial year, Rakgare has requested P234.5 million for the payment of allowances for interns, Tirelo Sechaba and GVS participants.
Faced with the pressure to absorb the desperate graduates and the criticism over slave like wages, the youth ministry has engaged United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to procure a consultant who will revise and update the current programmes, and to develop a new internship programme.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has placed Botswana in the top ten of countries in the world with the worst youth unemployment rate, according to 2019 data. The organisation, which defines labour as any work carried out by any economic active person aged between 15 and 24 years, says the country’s youth unemployment rate is pegged at 37.1 percent, placing Botswana in the tenth position of countries hard hit by unemployment.
The unemployment roll is set to keep increasing after the government abolished 50 percent of vacant government posts.