BotswanaPost looks set to Leverage on technology to deliver service excellence. According to the Chief Executive Officer Cornelius Ramatlhakwane one of the biggest challenges they face is to increase the uptake and usage on all their mobile channels.
He says this is a customer acquisition issue. “How do we encourage people to change their transaction patterns and explore better ways of sending money, buying electricity, paying their water bills, and renewing their vehicle licences? How do we make sure that the BotswanaPost App is downloaded onto every smartphone in Botswana? This puts the spotlight on our Marketing and Communications team,” he says.
The BotswanaPost CEO is confident that he has built the systems, now they need higher levels of activity on those systems. He is of the view that their growth plans go beyond Botswana. “We are in the process of generating revenue streams from within the region by successfully completing money transfers between us and our fellow Postal Operators. We are already transacting with Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. We believe we can connect the entire region and will be in Malawi soon. Our intention is to do that, and more: ultimately reaching out beyond the diaspora.”
The CEO promised that there are further innovations on the horizon: “We will resuscitate our PosoCloud offering. We will create more solutions for the financially excluded. We will make it quicker and cheaper for Batswana to communicate, do business, stay in touch with family and complete daily tasks without setting foot in a Post Office.”
RESPONSE TO DECLINING MAIL SERVICES
“Being the nation’s designated Postal Operator comes with significant responsibilities. Chief among these is the Universal Service Obligation (USO), which declares that all Batswana — no matter where they may live in the country — are entitled to the benefit of our services, regardless of how financially viable (or not viable) it may be to provide those services.”
Ramatlhakwane says despite the diverse revenue streams which they have created in recent times through the use of technology, their Mail business should still, at all times, account for half of BotswanaPost revenue. “This means that as we take steps towards increasing our revenues, Mail should account for half of those revenues, and we believe we can make this happen, even in the face of the general decline in mail volumes worldwide. We have to find more proactive ways to grow the Mail business.”
The CEO says they have opened four new kiosks in Sefalana retail outlets to increase reach. He says this has proved to be very successful, so they will definitely continue to expand this partnership. “We have created a Mail Business Value Centre with its own dedicated General Manager. And, most notably, we are using our Commercial Postal Operator’s licence to make our presence felt in the commercial postal business landscape.”
ICON OF EXCELLENCE
The Icon of Excellence Strategy was born in 2011. This was the point at which BotswanaPost started to reposition itself from being a traditionalist postal operator to a service provider. The philosophy was (and still is) to leverage technology to diversify revenue streams and enhance existing products through smart partnerships.
“Of course, the driving force behind this very important change was technology in general, and mobile technology in particular. A traditionalist postal business model cannot survive in the face of advanced communication systems, advanced payment systems and multichannel access — however, under the Icon of Excellence, these ‘threats’ became golden opportunities for our business,” observes Ramatlhakwane.
According to the CEO, the Icon of Excellence Strategy has enabled the Company to deliver a wide range of new products and services and to capitalise on the changing technological environment. This include the new BotswanaPost App (available for download on both Android and iOS devices) ePost, eCommerce, eGovernance, or a wide range of affordable and easy to use financial services — these innovations have redefined what can be accomplished in Botswana through dialogue with key stakeholders.”
Ramatlhakwane says he is particularly proud of the technological solutions they have delivered in partnership with organisations ranging from Government departments and parastatals to the private sector.
BotswanaPost finds itself in an interesting position: revenues are growing steadily, it is clear that customers appreciate (and are using) the new and existing range of products and services, but the parastatal is still recording losses — even though these are rapidly reducing.
To this end, Ramatlhakwane and his team have adopted organisation-wide measures such as Customer Service Excellence, System For Managing (SFM), process reengineering and product profitability under a new organizational model called the Value Centre Model. The goal is to aggressively control costs, boost efficiency, improve profitability and increase our revenue generating activities per employee (revenue per labour cost).
During the financial year 2016/2017 there was significant improvement in many areas of the business. Ramatlhakwane shares that BotswanaPost recorded a year-on-year revenue growth of 6.8% and revenues climbed strongly to BWP 457.7 million— the highest in the history of this organisation. “This sends a clear message to our stakeholders: we are continuing to grow. And we are doing so even in the face of a slightly depressed economic environment —domestically, regionally and globally,” he said.
Furthermore, BotswanaPost has managed to expand its revenue despite the fact that the Mail business has taken a large hit during this period. Mail revenue has declined by 9.1%, as many of the organisation’s large institutional clients such as the commercial banks and Government agencies have recently migrated to electronic platforms.
However, BotswanaPost says this setback is temporary. “We now have access to leading edge innovations such as Reverse Hybrid Mail which will enable us to pivot and revive these relationships with the important clients we served for many years — while still giving them the cost savings they desire. Through technology, we are confident in our ability to recover these income streams — and even grow them.”
This year, controllable costs are down by 7.9% and this is the second consecutive year of real improvement in this area. BotswanaPost is currently halfway through its two year Turnaround Strategy (Operational Effeciency Execution Plan) which began in the 2015-2016 financial year.
“In the first financial year since this plan was implemented, our operating losses reduced by 24.7%. In the current year, our losses have reduced by a further 51.9% to P12.9 million. As we dig ourselves out of this loss-making position, this has a healthy impact on our balance sheet. Today, BotswanaPost finds itself in a far superior financial situation than any other time in our recent history. Our total assets have increased by 9.9% this year, mostly in respect of our properties, which has the impact of improving retained earnings and solvency, valuing BotswanaPost at P538.6 million at the end of March 2017,” reports Ramatlhakwane.
Newly established wholly indigenous citizen owned retail chain Payless Retail (PTY) Ltd is set to partake in the first session of Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)’s Tshipidi Mentorship Program (TMP) on Monday June 29th.
The TMP aims to train and capacitate SMEs so they can operate as corporates and eventually list on the local bourse. According to local bourse, BSE, the program aims to provide practical training to potential issuers through a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
Payless Retail is a newly established supermarket chain whose mission is to become a convenient one-stop shopping destination as it is one of the Botswana oldest retailing brands. It started off as Corner Supermarket in January 1976, and to date boasts of nine stores in, among others, Gaborone, Mochudi, Molepolole and Tlokweng. Payless was recently acquired by Ellis Retail Group, which is led by businessman Elliot Moshoke.
The takeover catapulted Ellis Retail to the envious position of being the first wholly indigenous owned major retail chain. “We jumped at this opportunity because it gave us a chance to prove to Batswana that the retail business is open and lucrative.”
The objective is to create a proudly Botswana retail chain that fully supports our national Vision, economic development and citizen economic empowerment ambitions,” Moshoke told BusinessPost.
He further emphasized that Batswana are capable and able to run large scale businesses hence they need to accept invite foreign investors who will come in to support us not take the business. “Our win as Payless in the Fast Moving Consumer goods (FMCG) industry is a win for Batswana. We need their support in this difficult and challenging journey.
As you are aware, Payless is the only retail chain in the hands of Batswana ba Sekei. We need to take advantage of this to generate employment and create small businesses in retail and Agri businesses,” he explained.
The retailer has also partnered with Botswana Investment & Trade Center (BITC) on their #PushaBW campaign with a view to initiating earnest engagement with local producers to iron out bottlenecks and ensure seamless trading.
“Local producers have to be part of the phenomenal growth of the Payless brand. This will in turn facilitate employment creation and economic growth. We did this because we have the utmost respect for local manufacturers and producers,” he mentioned.
Payless is currently restocking all of its stores; a development that Moshoke says is testament to the retailer’s commitment to growing the brand and ensuring continuity of business. He further revealed that renowned retail suppliers like PST and CA Sales have reignited their trust in Payless, opening their doors for Payless as they have faith in the retailer’s new owners.
The takeover has reportedly saved more than 200 jobs and gave a new lease of life to the previously fledging Payless brand. According to a press release from the management team, the Payless work forces are also extremely excited about what the future holds. The TMP is a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
The program is administered by experts within the listing ecosystem and seeks to bring the potential issuers closer to the listings advisers, investors and leaders of already listed companies. “As a strategic initiative, the BSE decided to set up this mentorship program in a bid to assist SMEs to strategize, corporatize and acclimatize in order to list to access equity finance and expand operations,” said the BSE.
The TMP will avail to SMEs practical insights, knowledge and feedback from institutional investors, increased awareness of the BSE listing requirements as well as an intimate network of advisors and CEOs of listed companies. After training, Payless will graduate with improve governance structures and better knowledge of articulating its business strategy. The retailer will also gain increased visibility through BSE marketing platforms.
Despite Covid-19 interrupting trade worldwide, exporting companies in Botswana which benefited from the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) services realised P2.96 billion in export earnings during the period from April 2020 to March 2021.
In the preceding financial year, the sale of locally manufactured products in foreign markets had registered export revenue of P2, 427 billion against a target of P3, 211 billion BITC, which celebrates 10 years since establishment, continues to carry out several initiatives targeted towards expanding the Botswana export base in line with Botswana’s desire to be an export led economy, underpinned by a robust export promotion programme in line with the National Export Strategy.
The main products exported were swamp cruiser boats, pvc tanks and pvc pipes, ignition wiring sets, semi-precious stones, veterinary medicines, hair braids, coal, textiles (towels and t-shirts) and automobile batteries. These goods were destined mainly for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Austria, Germany, and Namibia.
With Covid-19 still a problem, BITC continues to roll out targeted virtual trade promotion missions across the SADC region with a view to seeking long-lasting market opportunities for locally manufactured products.
Recently, the Centre facilitated participation for Botswana companies at the Eastern Cape Development Council (ECDC) Virtual Export Symposium, the Botswana-Zimbabwe Virtual Trade Mission, the Botswana-Zambia Virtual Trade Mission, Botswana-South Africa Virtual Buyer/Seller Mission as well as the Botswana-Namibia Virtual Trade Mission.
BITC has introduced an e-Exporting programme aimed at assisting Botswana exporters to conduct business on several recommended e-commerce platforms. Due to the advent of COVID-19, BITC is currently promoting e-trade among companies through the establishment of e-commerce platforms and is assisting local companies to embrace digitisation by adopting e-commerce platforms to reach export markets as well as assisting local e-commerce platform developers to scale up their online marketplaces.
During the 2019/2020 financial year, BITC embarked on several initiatives targeted at growing exports in the country; facilitation of participation of local companies in international trade platforms in order to enhance export sales of local products and services into external markets.
BITC also helped in capacity development of local companies to compete in global markets and the nurturing of export awareness and culture among local manufacturers in order to enhance their skills and knowledge of export processes; and in development and implementation of trade facilitation tools that look to improve the overall ease of doing business in Botswana.
As part of building export capacity in 2019/20, six (6) companies were selected to initiate a process to be Organic and Fair Trade Certified. These companies are; Blue Pride (Pty) Ltd, Motlopi Beverages, Moringa Technology Industries (Pty) Ltd, Sleek Foods, Maungo Craft and Divine Morula.
In 2019 seven companies which were enrolled in the Botswana Exporter Development Programme were capacitated with attaining BOBS ISO 9001: 2015 certification. Three (3) companies successfully attained BOBS ISO 9001:2015 certification. These were Lithoflex (Pty) Ltd, General Packaging Industries and Power Engineering.
BITC’s annual flagship exhibition, Global Expo Botswana (GEB) to create opportunities for trade and strategic synergies between local and international companies. The Global Expo Botswana) is a premier business to business exposition that attracts FDI, expansion of domestic investment, promotion of exports of locally produced goods and services and promotion of trade between Botswana and other countries.
The portal also provides information on; measures, legal documents, and forms and procedures needed by Botswana companies that intend on doing business abroad. BITC continues to assist both potential and existing local manufacturing and service entities to realise their export ambitions. This assistance is pursued through the ambit of the Botswana Exporter Development Programme (BEDP) and the Trade Promotion Programme.
BEDP was revised in 2020 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a vision to developing a diversified export-based economy. The programme focuses mostly on capacitating companies to reach export readiness status.
Prices for goods and services in this country continue to increase, with the latest figures from Statistics Botswana showing that in May 2022, inflation rate rose to 11.9 percent from 9.6 percent recorded in April 2022.
According to Statistics Botswana update released this week, the largest upward contributions to the annual inflation rate in May 2022 came from increase in the cost of transport (7.2 percent), housing, water, electricity, gas & other Fuels (1.4 percent), food & non-alcoholic beverages (1.1 percent) and miscellaneous goods & services (0.8 percent).
With regard to regional inflation rates between April and May 2022, the Rural Villages inflation rate went up by 2.5 percentage points, from 9.6 percent in April to 12.1 percent in May 2022, according to the government owned statistics entity.
In the monthly update the entity stated that the Urban Villages inflation rate stood at 11.8 percent in May 2022, a rise of 2.4 percentage points from the April rate of 9.4 percent, whereas the Cities & Towns inflation rate recorded an increase of 1.9 percentage points, from 9.9 percent in April to 11.8 percent in May.
Commenting on the national Consumer Price Index, the entity stated that it went up by 2.6 percent, from 120.1 in April to 123.2 in May 2022. Statisticians from the entity noted that the transport group index registered an increase of 7.3 percent, from 134.5 in April to 144.2 in May, mainly due to the rise in retail pump prices for petrol and diesel by P1.54 and P2.74 per litre respectively, which effected on the 13th of May 2022.
The food & non-alcoholic beverages group index rose by 2.6 percent, from 118.6 in April 2022 to 121.6 in May 2022 and this came as a result of increase in prices of oils & fats, vegetables, bread & cereal, mineral waters, soft drinks, fruits & vegetables juices, fish (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen) and meat (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen), according to the Statisticians.
The Statisticians said the furnishing, household equipment & routine maintenance group index rose by 1.0 percent, from 111.6 in April 2022 to 112.7 in May 2022 and this was attributed to a general increase in prices of household appliances, glassware, tableware & household utensils and goods & services for household maintenance.
The prices for clothing & footwear group index moved from 109.4 to 110.4, registering a rise of 0.9 percent during the period under review. Bank of Botswana has projected higher inflation in the short term, associated with the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices and added that the possible increase in public service salaries could add also upward pressure to inflation in this country.