Botswana is a Net Food Importing Developing Country (NFIDC), leaving a significantly unexplored business opportunity to increase domestic production of basic foodstuffs, particularly cereals such as grain sorghum and maize and pulses, says the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), the country‘s investment promotion and trade facilitation agency.
Cereal national demand stands at 200 000 tons per year, of which according to Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), on its weekly trade opportunities alert, only 17 percent is supplied through local production. This information also corroborates with figures shared by Botswana Millers Association at the Budget review seminar held by First National Bank Botswana, in Gaborone recently. According Nkosi Mwaba, President of the Association, South Africa produces in a year 18 times what Botswana produces in the same period.
Mwaba explained that on average Botswana produces 120 metric tons of maize per annum while South Africa produces 3500 000 metric tonnes during the same period. “This basically means what South African produces in 3 weeks we take the whole year to produce” he said.
These figures spark conversation around the country’s efforts towards attaining food security. The agricultural sector has also, on several occasions been underscored as the missing puzzle in Botswana‘s economic diversification and employment creation efforts.
Currently within the agricultural sector, Botswana earns significant revenue from the Beef sector; however the industry has been facing its own challenges and not performing well, not as much fast evolving and growing as compared to the Namibian and Brazilian ones. Over the years, initiatives have been put in place aimed at instilling the innovative culture amongst Botswana economic engines and service delivery mechanism.
The fundamental focus currently is on transforming the economy to being knowledge based, export led as well as private sector dominated where government only plays the role of facilitator and regulator. BITC says investments in arable agriculture will; stimulate private sector development, create employment, create value-addition opportunities, and enhance food security and ultimately exports. â€¨
However, as Botswana is by in large a semi-arid landlocked country with poor rainfall, arable farming finds itself in a compromised position leaving irrigative and innovation, modern farming techniques as the only way out, the latter however requires significant financing to set up and particular sets of skills to implement and effectively run. On the part of lack of financing, against the run of suggestions and many recommendations Ministry of Agriculture continues to receive very little from the national recurrent budget.
Experts and agricultural advocates says the lack of adequate budget allocations to agricultural sector, subsequently means no infrastructure development to support the sector, no road networks to connect farm lands with market places, no development of innovative solutions in response to climate challenges facing the sector. The common denominator in various submissions by different speakers centered on the fact that agriculture has demonstrated before through numerous scientific studies and economic research findings as a sector with significant potential to remedy Botswana’s economic diversification headache.
Still at FNBB Budget review early this month, Bokomo Botswana Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Werner De Beer said low produce of maize and wheat locally continues to impedes and frustrate their business expansion quests. Bokomo which processes the two raw cereals to various consumer products says having to import raw material from South Africa comes with transportation costs which in turn shrinks their profits margins.
“We have a policy to supply local farmers but unfortunately they can only provide six percent of our plant capacity demand,” he said. De Beers further revealed that currently Botswana imports in excess of P460 million worth of maize and wheat annually, an opportunity which he says lies for Batswana arable farmers to tap into. Botswana government has however been coming up with several schemes to support the agricultural sector.
BITC says in their investment opportunities alert that the Pandamatenga agricultural Infrastructure development project, located in an area receiving the highest average annual rainfall, and could create spin-offs in sunflower processing instead of exporting sunflower production for processing. “The Zambezi Agro-commercial Development Project presents another investment opportunity. The Zambezi River will supply irrigation to will help increase 20 000 hectares of agricultural development”
Similarly, recommendations from the National Master Plan for Arable Agricultural and Dairy Development (NAMPAADD)report identify projected irrigation in Mmadinare-Tobane (750 hectares), supplied by Shashe Dam, and in Selebi-Phikwe (1,019 hectares) supplied by Letsibogo Dam. Spin off investment opportunities of these projects include horticulture packaging and gross sales to domestic and international markets at standardized rates.
Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Running a digital businessMTN Business Solutions Botswana, popularly known as MTN Business is an Internet Service Provider. We are a subsidiary of MTN Group Limited, a multinational telecommunications Group headquartered in South Africa, which operates in 19 markets across Africa and the Middle East.
More and more, clients are looking for ways to keep their staff productive in a dynamically changing business environment. Whether your people are working from home, the office or abroad, there is a growing recognition that digitising your operations can offer unprecedented commercial value in flexibility, productivity and growth. This new, digital reality means that it is more important than ever to stay agile – if there is anything that can slow a business down, it is being burdened by othatld technology.
Having made substantial investments in fibre technology, high-speed terrestrial and undersea networks and new frequency spectrum across the markets wherein it operates, MTN is perfectly positioned to respond to this shift in the market.
A few years ago, MTN also made the decision to build an IP capable radio network for its mobile services, giving its core network the ability to seamlessly integrate with enterprise IP networks. The mobile towers deliver services to enterprise clients absolutely anywhere it has a network, shortening the last mile and removing complexity and cost.
Now there is increasing demand from clients to connect their remote sites in all areas, including rural and semi- rural. MTN has assisted clients with overcoming this connectivity hurdle, enabling their staff to get the job done wherever they are.
For MTN, the focus has shifted from just being a core telecommunications services provider, towards also becoming a technology solutions provider. The service offering now also includes Unified Communications, Data Hosting and Cloud Solutions, Security-As-A-Service and Managed Network Services. The scope has changed to being client and industry specific, so the requirements and service portfolio vary from one client to the next. The expectation is that a company like MTN must respond to these challenges, helping clients to get business done better as they shift from old to new technologies.
As many businesses continue to grapple with a digitally dynamic world, they face new challenges that have to be solved. This environment will benefit those that are more digitally enabled and agile. It is a brave new world that will favour online over on-site, wireless over wired and fluid over formulaic. Businesses will seek out partners and suppliers that are every bit as flexible and forward-looking as they are.
Ultimately, clients need partners like MTN Business that will invest in infrastructure, deliver the services they require, have market credibility, are financially sound and have a long-term commitment to their market presence.
Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.
The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.
Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.
“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.
He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.
Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.
“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.
He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.
He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc
“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran
Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.
“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.
Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.
“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.
He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.
“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams
He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .
Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.
“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.