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New Total MD reveals expansion strategy

Total Botswana’s newly appointed Managing Director, Diego Mtshali has announced the company’s plan to increase presence in Botswana, after playing second fiddle for some time to other competitors in the petroleum industry.  

As the new MD of Total Botswana, Mtshali is responsible for all Total business activities in Botswana which include fuel and lubricants importation, storage, dispatch to retail and commercial customers, safety in their operations and overall profitability of Total Botswana.
Mtshali took over the reign in January this year, with a clear mandate to turn around the fortunes of the company in Botswana.   

“It is an anomaly [in Botswana]. If you look at other countries, we have dominant market share, but here, I would say, we have been shy,” Mtshali told BusinessPost this week. While Total’s market share in Botswana is in single digits, the giant petroleum company controls 30 percent of the market in Zambia, 20% in Mozambique, over 35% in Zimbabwe and 13% in Namibia. Mtshali said this is an indication that they are dominant in the region.

“Botswana comes out as pain and we are trying to resolve the damage done over the years. We are trying to be more visible and make our presence felt.” The new MD has admitted that the company has not leveraged on its partnerships with various entities or its international stature in improving its visibility in the country.

Total is a sponsor of CAF Champions League, something which the new MD believes the company should have used to leverage on, following the historic performance by Township Rollers in the tournament. Mtshali hinted that as part of making amends in Botswana, the Total Southern Africa group took a decision to unbundle the group and give each country autonomy, including in decision making. Botswana was treated as one together with Lesotho, Swaziland, and Namibia. After the unbundling Botswana remains a ‘pain’ to the group and Mtshali has been brought in to provide the ‘medicine’.


Total, which is the continent’s leading [16 percent market share] and fourth world leading Petroleum Company, is currently ranked fifth in Botswana, something which the new MD considers not good enough for the company. Total has been in in Botswana since 1967 and currently operates 12 service stations out of the 220 service stations countrywide. “We operate in the retail space. We import and store fuel and dispatch to the market. We also import lubricants and sell to the market,” Mtshali explained Total’s business model.

“Our plan is to have at least three more by first quarter (Q1) of 2019,” revealed Mtshali. “We already have one under construction in Kanye, and we looking forward to add two more.” Mtshali admitted that it will not be easy to fix a problem that last over 30 years in just 5 years, “but we are working hard to address the anomaly.”  Total has 4500 service stations in Africa while the number 2 company has only 2300, “this demonstrates our dominance in the petroleum space hence Botswana is an anomaly,” he stressed.

Total is also an indomitable in the lubricants space as well as gas. Mtshali underscores that, with the number of import car entering the country, demand for fuel has been rising consistently over the years. It is against this reason that, the new Total Botswana boss wants his company to tap onto this growth. “Botswana’s petroleum industry is growing on average by 2.5 percent. We want to ride on that in our growth strategy,” he said. Mtshali said Total aims to increase its market share without necessarily eating into the share of other competitors.

Botswana imports and uses 100 million litres of fuel on annual basis. With complaints persistent about the rising price of fuel, Mtshali indicated that, such development is influenced by demand and supply in the international market; to be precise, the Singapore, Arabian hubs as well as the Mediterranean region.

In rise in demand in these regions, caused by different factors such as natural disasters, lead to a rise in prices in Africa. The US market however does not have any bearing on the petroleum industry in Botswana, according to Mtshali. Mtshali, with a BSc in Chemical Engineering from University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and MBA in Business Management from University of Cape Town has dedicated all years of his work in the petroleum industry.

 His work experience is based in the Oil and Gas industry where he has worked in Process Engineering; Crude, Production and Supply Planning. Prior to join Total Botswana has MD, he served served as Production Planning Manage, under the same company. Total is a French multinational integrated oil and   gas company and one of the seven "  Supermajor" oil companies in the world.


Its businesses cover the entire oil and gas chain, from crude oil and natural gas exploration and production to power generation, transportation, refining, petroleum product marketing, and international crude oil and product trading.  Total is also a large scale chemicals manufacturer and a major player in low-carbon energies.

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020
Botswana-on-high-alert-as-AML-joins-Covid-19-to-plague-mankind-

This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.

The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.

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Finance Committee cautions Gov’t against imprudent raising of debt levels

21st September 2020
Finance Committe Chairman: Thapelo Letsholo

Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.

He was speaking in  Parliament on Tuesday delivering  Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a  motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.

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Gov’t Investment Account drying up fast!  

21st September 2020
Dr Matsheka

Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.

The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.

The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.

The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.

This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.

Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.

Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.

However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.

Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.

When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.

This  as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.

Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.

The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.

Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.

In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.

Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.

Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.

Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.

Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance   Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”

He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”

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