Botswana Investment & Trade Centre (BITC) and its sister parastatal Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) last week officially launched Bulb World, a 100 percent citizen owned a LED light bulb manufacturing company operating in Selibe Phikwe.
Botswana’s national investment and trade promotion agency , BITC assisted the setting up of Bulb World through facilitation services offered at the Botswana One Stop Services Center (BOSSC) while SPEDU , a Phikwe region bespoke investment promotion agency made facilitations on factory shells and all operational space requirements in Phikwe. Owned by Ketshephaone Jacob a youthful entrepreneur and innovator, Bulb World manufactures 20,000 light Emitting Diode (LED) lights per day.
The company currently employed 30 young Batswana at the factory and 6 more administrative and marketing personnel at their Gaborone office. Ketshephaone Jacob explained that his company was established in 2016 but only started production in late 2018. “We ran into some delays with procurement of equipments and factory components which deferred our production timeline” he said.
With everything back on track Jacob says the aim is to be the leading provider of LED lighting solutions in Botswana and the SADC region for commercial and industrial factories as well as private residence. Bulb World lights are said to be designed to save energy by 80% on lighting costs and have a production span of up to 50,000 hours and a 36-month guarantee.
Coming at a time when residents of Selibe Phikwe are still hard hit by the aftermath of BCL Mine closure speakers at the launch underscored Bulb World’s capability to contribute meaningfully to the revitalization of Phikwe and entire SPEDU region “Our ambition as Bulb World is to employ as many young people as possible in our bid to create employment and we do absorb our recruits straight from tertiary institutions and offer on the job training.” Explained Jacob.
SPEDU Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mokubung Mokubung noted that Bulb World has the potential to help reduce Botswana’s import bill and contribute significantly to the nation’s economic diversification agenda “I am confident it will help uplift the economy of Selibe-Phikwe as it has already created jobs for 30 youths and its expected to create more jobs in the future,” he said.
Chief Executive of Botswana Investment & Trade Centre, Mr Kelotsositse Olebile encouraged Bulb World to register for the Economic Diversification Drive initiative (EDD) as it seeks to leverage on government purchasing power through local procurement. Mr Olebile also invited The Bulb World to use available BITC programes such as Botswana Export Development Programme (BEDP) and challenged the community to buy local products.
Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Karabo Gare, who was the guest speaker commended Bulb World Botswana for their contribution towards improving the energy sector in Botswana. Gare said the huge part of the electricity consumption in Botswana accounts to 40% of the total energy used for buildings alone and the introduction of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting was a step in the right direction as it was energy efficient and consumes up to 80% less power than traditional lights.
He said the less energy consumed by LED lighting the less demand from power plants which will decrease greenhouse gas emissions consequently reducing global warming crises. Assistant Minister Gare said the his Ministry regards Bulb World as a critical partner in the revitalization of Selibe Phikwe and SPEDU region following demise of its economic engine in October 2016. “We recognize the efforts made by the young entrepreneurs who came up with this company and we continue to urge more domestic business people to invest in Phikwe and make the SPEDU region a manufacturing hub” he said.
In addition the Minister called on local sales companies, retail outlets and electrical appliances stores to offer shelves space to Bulb World products. "I believe in supporting local products and initiatives that actually grows our country, so let the words "made in Botswana" or "PushaBW" be a call of action and not a call to question", Said Gare. The Assistant Minister highlighted that Bulb World was taking strides in delivering the nation's best spark forward on a local and International scale.
“We are aware of the challenges that are faced by SMME's like Bulb World Botswana but my Ministry continuously engages retailers to support local manufacturers and we are already seeing positive results in the food and clothing sectors where commitments have been made on provision of shelve space.” Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Mr Mmetla Masire said his Ministry will also support Bulb World as it offers solution to Botswana‘s energy needs. “We should promote market uptake of locally produced goods not only because they are local but because of reasonable pricing and good quality.
In today’s digital age, banking is no longer just about visiting a branch during business hours. It’s about putting you, the customer, in the driver’s seat of your financial journey. But what exactly is self-service banking, and how do you stand to benefit from it as a customer?
Self-service banking is all about giving you the power to manage your finances on your terms. Whether you want to check your account balance at midnight, transfer money while on vacation, or deposit cash without waiting in line, self-service banking makes it possible. It’s like having a virtual branch at your fingertips, ready to assist you 24/7.
This shift towards self-service banking was catalyzed by various factors but it became easily accessible and accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic. People of all ages found themselves turning to digital channels out of necessity, and they discovered the freedom and flexibility it offers.
Anyone with a bank account and access to the internet or a smartphone can now bank anywhere and anytime. Whether you’re a tech-savvy millennial or someone who’s less comfortable with technology, you as the customer have the opportunity to manage your finances independently through online banking portal or downloading your bank’s mobile app. These platforms are designed to be user-friendly, with features like biometric authentication to ensure your transactions are secure.
Speaking of security, you might wonder how safe self-service banking really is. Banks invest heavily in encryption and other security measures to protect your information. In addition to that, features like real-time fraud detection and AI-powered risk management add an extra layer of protection.
Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the catch? Does self-service banking come with a cost?” The good news is that for the most part, it’s free. Banks offer these digital services as part of their commitment to customer satisfaction. However, some transactions, like wire transfers or expedited bill payments, may incur a small service fee.
At Bank Gaborone, our electronic channels offer a plethora of services around the clock to cater to your banking requirements. This includes our Mobile App, which doesn’t require data access for Orange and Mascom users. We also have e-Pula Internet Banking portal, available at https://www.bankgaborone.co.bw as well as Tobetsa Mobile Banking which is accessible via *187*247#. Our ATMs also offer the flexibility of allowing you to deposit, withdraw cash, and more.
With self-service banking, you have the reins of your financial affairs, accessible from the comfort of your home, workplace, or while you’re on the move. So why wait? Take control of your finances today with self-service banking.
Duduetsang Chappelle-Molloy is Head: Marketing and Corporate Communication Services
Botswana has recently recorded a significant trade deficit of over P6 billion. This trade deficit, which occurred in November 2023, follows another deficit of P4.7 billion recorded in October of the same year. These figures, released by Statistics Botswana, highlight a decline in export revenues as the main cause of the trade deficit.
In November 2023, Botswana’s total export revenues amounted to P2.9 billion, a decrease of 24.3 percent from the previous month. Diamonds, a major contributor to Botswana’s exports, experienced a significant decline of 44.1 percent during this period. This decline in diamond exports played a significant role in the overall decrease in export revenues. However, diamonds still remained the leading export commodity group, contributing 44.2 percent to export revenues. Copper and Machinery & Electrical Equipment followed, contributing 25.8 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.
Asia emerged as the leading export market for Botswana, receiving exports worth P1.18 billion in November 2023. The United Arab Emirates, China, and Hong Kong were the top destinations within Asia, receiving 18.6 percent, 14.2 percent, and 3.8 percent of total exports, respectively. Diamonds and Copper were the major commodity groups exported to Asia.
The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) received Botswana’s exports worth P685.7 million, with South Africa being the main recipient within SACU. The European Union (EU) received exports worth P463.2 million, primarily through Belgium. Australia received exports worth P290 million, while the United States received exports valued at P69.6 million, mostly composed of diamonds.
On the import side, Botswana imported goods worth P9.5 billion in November 2023, representing an increase of 11.2 percent from the previous month. The increase in imports was mainly driven by a rise in Diamonds and Chemicals & Rubber Products imports. Diamonds contributed 23.3 percent to total imports, followed by Fuel and Food, Beverages & Tobacco at 19.4 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively.
The SACU region was the top supplier of imports to Botswana, accounting for 77.7 percent of total imports. South Africa contributed the largest share at 57.2 percent, followed by Namibia at 20.0 percent. Imports from Asia accounted for 9.8 percent of total imports, with Diamonds, Machinery & Electrical Equipment, and Chemicals & Rubber Products being the major commodity groups imported. The EU supplied Botswana with imports worth 3.2 percent of total imports, primarily in the form of Machinery & Electrical Equipment, Diamonds, and Chemicals & Rubber Products.
Botswana’s recent trade deficit of over P6 billion highlights a decline in export revenues, particularly in the diamond sector. While Asia remains the leading export market for Botswana, the country heavily relies on imports from the SACU region, particularly South Africa. Addressing the trade deficit will require diversification of export markets and sectors, as well as efforts to promote domestic industries and reduce reliance on imports.
The business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024, according to a recent survey conducted by the Bank of Botswana (BoB). The survey collected information from businesses in various sectors, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, and finance, among others. The results of the survey indicate that businesses expect trading conditions to improve in the first quarter of 2024 and remain favorable throughout the year.
The researchers found that firms anticipate improvements in investment, profitability, and goods and services exported in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the previous quarter. These expectations, combined with anticipated growth in all sectors except construction and real estate, contribute to the overall confidence in business conditions. Furthermore, businesses expect further improvements in the first quarter of 2024 and throughout the entire year.
Confidence among domestic market-oriented firms may decline slightly in the first quarter of 2024, but overall optimism is expected to improve throughout the year, consistent with the anticipated domestic economic recovery. Firms in sectors such as mining, retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and finance are driving this confidence. Export-oriented firms also show increased optimism in the first quarter of 2024 and for the entire year.
All sectors, except agriculture, which remains neutral, are optimistic about the first quarter of 2024 and the year ending in December 2024. This optimism is likely supported by government interventions to support economic activity, including the two-year Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP) and reforms aimed at improving the business environment. The anticipated improvement in profitability, goods and services exported, and business investment further contributes to the positive outlook.
Firms expect lending rates and borrowing volumes to increase in the 12-month period ending in December 2024. This increase in borrowing is consistent with the expected rise in investment, inventories, and goods and services exported. Firms anticipate that domestic economic performance will improve during this period. Domestic-oriented firms perceive access to credit from commercial banks in Botswana to be relaxed, while export-oriented firms prefer to borrow from South Africa.
During the fourth quarter of 2023, firms faced high cost pressures due to increased input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport, resulting from supply constraints related to conflicts in Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas. According to the survey report, the firms noted that cost pressures during the fourth quarter of 2023 were high, mainly attributable to increase in some input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport arising from supply constraints related to the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas wars. “However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased, compared to the previous survey, and have remained within the Bank’s 3 – 6 percent objective range, averaging 5.4 percent for 2023 and 5.4 percent for 2024. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is good for maintenance of price stability,” reads the survey report in part.
However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased compared to the previous survey, and inflation expectations remained within the Bank’s objective range of 3-6 percent. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is beneficial for maintaining price stability.
In terms of challenges, most firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, construction, and finance sectors considered the exchange rate of the Pula to be unfavorable to their business operations. This is mainly because these firms import raw materials from South Africa and would prefer a stronger Pula against the South African rand. Additionally, firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, and mining sectors cited other challenges, including supply constraints from conflicts in Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas, as well as new citizen economic empowerment policies that some firms considered unfavorable to foreign direct investment.
On the positive side, firms highlighted factors such as adequate water and electricity supply, a favorable political climate, an effective regulatory framework, the availability of skilled labor, and domestic and international demand as supportive to doing business in Botswana during the fourth quarter of 2023.
Overall, the business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024. The anticipated improvements in trading conditions, supported by government interventions and reforms, are expected to drive growth and profitability in various sectors. While challenges exist, businesses remain confident in the potential for economic recovery and expansion.