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Friday, 01 December 2023

BUAN should extend to Selibe Phikwe




Following the demise of BCL limited which prior to that formed the economic nucleus of Selibe Phikwe, the former mining town future remains uncertain.


Former Government Legislature and cabinet Minister, now a property magnet and shrewd business tycoon, David Magang observes in his ‘’View from Mana House’’ CAN PHIKWE BE REDEEMED eloquent piece weeks ago in this publication that the concept of special economic zones, roping in the Chinese investment acumen would go a long way into saving the otherwise soon to become a ghost town.


The Selibe Phikwe Economic Revitalization strategy unveiled just 2 weeks ago during the African Industrialization Day commemoration which was lamented by President Khama’s SONA last week also suggests a big turnaround for Phikwe, commendable craft and of course well presented, however implementation still remains to be witnessed if it will be any different from other countless mega national projects and economic undertakings which chewed billions to waste.


The strategy seeks to unearth  thousands jobs in textile industry ,the same industry which axed over 2000 jobs in 2008 when investors pocketed   proceeds from tax holidays and vacated the country leaving the town more  dependent on BCL mine.


Agricultural sector and food processing which forms part of the revitalization strategy can also receive accolades for contributing to undiversified Phikwe we see today, just to name a few ,the crush of Talana Farms, collapse of Satmos dairy farms when death robbed the town one of its builders, Samuel Sono .


Now notably the deterrence of Phikwe from housing Botswana’s second university by the decision maker’s years ago evidently haunts Phikwe and government diversification efforts today. However it is not too late for such development, which undoubtedly would make a significant economic boost and complementation to the revitalization strategy.


Making an in-depth look into the revitalization strategy under the stewardship of former Bank of Botswana governor Linah Mhohlo, the strategy is encored on projects which should any little fallout on implementation occur, we are back to square one!!


The strategy also doesn’t explain how retooling and rescaling  thousands of former miners to fit into the new key sectors now being farming, manufactured parts  assembling , travel and tours businesses  just to name a few will be done. Lets asses Agriculture and food processing as well an over view on the tourism industry ignoring Manufacturing for now.


You now already beginning to locate how my heading came about, lets visit Botswana‘s premier agricultural academic institution and see if we can’t bring it into this conversation. It’s been almost a year since the Botswana College of Agriculture fully upgraded to the status of a university and attained the nomenclature of Botswana University of Agriculture& Natural Resources (BUANR).


Having gained autonomy from the University of Botswana, now that enables BUANR to independently carry out its specific mandate of becoming a world class innovation and research agricultural academic institution. The expectation is that the university should take its relevant position in providing solutions to exiting agricultural challenges.


BUANR has an obligation to provide academic research and innovative consultancy to decision makers and other stake holders towards closing up local food insecurity loophole which sends billions abroad in import bill.


We expect BUARN now that it’s no longer a faculty but a fully fleshed entity with its own budget ,to develop frameworks and carry out researches that unleashes and unlocks Botswana’s potential in Horticultural production, milk produce, Beef product diversity , leather processing and products manufacturing ,and other agricultural industries  that are currently untapped locally.


However I doubt with the current infrastructure and institutional space BUANR can rightfully carry out its mandate. I want to believe infrastructural development and institutional facilities upgrade to fully equip the agricultural institution are in the pipeline.


Building campuses or special academia centers separately from the main administration space has proven not to negatively affect the running of an academic institution in anyhow. University of Botswana does it with its research center in Maun. International academic institutions like University of Johannesburg continue to successfully make it into top 10 African universities with such campus model in place.


Considering the current institutional parameter which the university is situated, any infrastructural development in the same place would either be squeezed up or consume the practical’s area spared for farming and other practical academic undertakings.


The university will need an innovation and research center employed with expects and professional academics to facilitate robust solution seeking and also act as university link with other science, research and technology stakeholders like Botswana Innovation Hub, BITRI and other academic institutions.


Should the decision makers think along the same lines, Selebi Phikwe comes out as more qualified to host such a development ,proposing a model similar to the University of Botswana‘s Okavango Research institute in Maun or a full separate campus housing 2 or 3 relevant faculties to avoid congestion at the main campus.


Being born and bred in Phikwe my ordinary self, perhaps it is paramount that before breaking down my reasons attached to this opinion, i lay forth a disclaimer that this position is not in anyhow influenced by my sense of belonging to copper and nickel town, nor any political endeavor but solely influenced by the economic potential in the Phikwe area as well as a goodwill lame man analysis on the future outlook of our town.




Now I believe we beginning to comprehend where BUANR could fit in the revitalization equation. Setting up an academic institution in Selibe Phikwe, let alone an innovation and research center will go a long way in complementing the efforts of other stakeholders in turning the Phikwe area into Botswana‘s major industrial city and transforming the region into a premier sight for innovative and technology companies, SPEDU would surely approve of this sentiment, at least from what I gathered at their new brand launch months ago.


Basically complementing the revitalization strategy with capacity building and skills development. Automatically a development such as an institution comes with infrastructural erection thus  temporary employment creation, that on its own brings about the diversity in jobs availability, which Selibe Phikwe currently desperately needs credit to the obvious reasons of Nigel Dixon Warren-the terminator.




Putting up BUANR campus in Phikwe would not only benefit the Selibe Phikwe region and its people, but would also bring about great efficiency in the service delivery and well resourced execution of mandate for the Agricultural academy itself.


The region sits comfortably at the centre of well positioned dams availing abundant water for agricultural practical’s. From the far south sits the newly opened Lotsane Dam in Maunatla, sailing through the Thune dam in the east south of Selibe Phikwe , the Dikgathong Dam in the North eastern side right on the Motloutse basin and off course the traditional Letsibogo on the northwestern top of the SPEDU region.


These resources together with the fertile soil around the region gives the BUANR a great environment to carry out their agricultural research , experiments ,studies and academic capacity building that is substantiated with practicals and actual physical undertakings , thus turning it into a world class agricultural university that produces readymade and industrial graduates.


As we expect BUANR to promote commercial and techno-based methods of agricultural practice , I think there is no better region to provide such environment ,taking into consideration the existing facilities like NAFTRC’s National Agro-Processing Plant , renewed and re-motivated SPEDU , and the Linah Mhohlo uphill task ,BUANR would complement this efforts with research , innovative and academic techno based expertise turning the Phikwe region into Botswana’s bread basket and eventually reducing the national import bill brought by food insecurity, and ofcource saving our town from turning into Botswana’s Detroit as David Magang would put it.




Furthermore Selibe Phikwe is engulfed in a naturally resourced parameter rich in environmental diversity. The Limpopo River, Motloutse, Thuli Block and Platjan brings about an interesting ecosystem with indigenous tree spices, undisturbed forestry and variety of wildlife, aquatic plants and animals ,something which also translate to great tourism potential aswell.


With the little information I have about the thresh hold of BUANR areas of academia, great environment in Bobirwa constituency, Tsetsebjwe natural forests, Lentswe le Moriti vegetations and Sheerwood Ranges is more than enough for the execution of BUANR mandates as far as student science and research practical’s are concerned ,at least for the Natural Resources nomenclature .


Generally Selibe Phikwe and the whole SPEDU region is rich in agricultural potential and natural resources that could be unleashed to cultivate wealth and economic transformation and diversification which  eventually comes with thousands jobs for the people living in the area hence maintaining Mhohlo’s reputation of successful national assignment record!!!


Arguably one would question my silence about livestock and animal husbandry potential of the region, well that can be blamed on the FMD outbreak that hit our zone years back, but sipping from the BMC records of few years back, one would learn that before Foot N Mouth outbreak, the zone 7 which enclaves Selibe Phikwe was one of the highest producers of good quality cattle’s, at least from communal farms.


And my sources at the Ministry of Agriculture revealed to my knowledge hungry person that the authorities are in a processes of reviewing the zone, giving hope that soon the region will be open for European Market intake as matter of fact President Khama confirmed it on Monday(SONA).


Perhaps the placing of a research institution here in Phikwe would extent an expert help to resurrecting the region’s cattle supply to BMC,so is the Botswana Vaccine Institute ,I would like to invite them to prospect extending their services here in Phikwe more so that reports suggests they are planning to expand commercially and factory wise, Minister  Ralotsia’s visit to France earlier this year informs that.


Now getting into Conclusion, esteemed readers of the this ‘Insightful publication’ let me note that The Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resource now has a role to play as an academic and research think tank for environmental policies to “”Ministry of Natural Resources & Wildlife-’’’ as well as agricultural policy crafting to its mother ministry which now has a direct task of improving Botswana’s food security.


With the Southern side of Botswana housing the main campuses of both the BUANR , University of Botswana and other research institutions like NAFTRC, already Okavango Research Center(Maun) covering the far northern side ,and Palapye enjoying the housing of BUIST, Selibe Phikwe is now better placed to host an extension of the agricultural academy , should funds and developmental plans permit. I rest my case.


Rearabilwe Ramaphane is 2015 Alumni of Fredrich Ebert Stiftung Leadership program. Chairman of Innovative Youth Organization, Selibe Phikwe based researcher and freelance publisher .He writes here in his own personal capacity – 75525191


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IEC Disrespects Batswana: A Critical Analysis

10th November 2023

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has recently faced significant criticism for its handling of the voter registration exercise. In this prose I aim to shed light on the various instances where the IEC has demonstrated a lack of respect towards the citizens of Botswana, leading to a loss of credibility. By examining the postponements of the registration exercise and the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively, it becomes evident that the institution has disregarded its core mandate and the importance of its role in ensuring fair and transparent elections.

Incompetence or Disrespect?

One possible explanation for the IEC’s behavior is sheer incompetence. It is alarming to consider that the leadership of such a critical institution may lack the understanding of the importance of their mandate. The failure to communicate the reasons for the postponements in a timely manner raises questions about their ability to handle their responsibilities effectively. Furthermore, if the issue lies with government processes, it calls into question whether the IEC has the courage to stand up to the country’s leadership.

Another possibility is that the IEC lacks respect for its core clients, the voters of Botswana. Respect for stakeholders is crucial in building trust, and clear communication is a key component of this. The IEC’s failure to communicate accurate and complete information, despite having access to it, has fueled speculation and mistrust. Additionally, the IEC’s disregard for engaging with political parties, such as the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), further highlights this disrespect. By ignoring the UDC’s request to observe the registration process, the IEC demonstrates a lack of regard for its partners in the electoral exercise.

Rebuilding Trust and Credibility:

While allegations of political interference and security services involvement cannot be ignored, the IEC has a greater responsibility to ensure its own credibility. The institution did manage to refute claims by the DISS Director that the IEC database had been compromised, which is a positive step towards rebuilding trust. However, this remains a small glimmer of hope in the midst of the IEC’s overall disregard for the citizens of Botswana.

To regain the trust of Batswana, the IEC must prioritize respect for its stakeholders. Clear and timely communication is essential in this process. By engaging with political parties and addressing their concerns, the IEC can demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. It is crucial for the IEC to recognize that its credibility is directly linked to the trust it garners from the voters.


The IEC’s recent actions have raised serious concerns about its credibility and respect for the citizens of Botswana. Whether due to incompetence or a lack of respect for stakeholders, the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively and handle its responsibilities has damaged its reputation. To regain trust and maintain relevance, the IEC must prioritize clear and timely communication, engage with political parties, and demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. Only by respecting the voters of Botswana can the IEC fulfill its crucial role in ensuring free and fair elections.


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Fuelling Change: The Evolving Dynamics of the Oil and Gas Industry

4th April 2023

The Oil and Gas industry has undergone several significant developments and changes over the last few years. Understanding these developments and trends is crucial towards better appreciating how to navigate the engagement in this space, whether directly in the energy space or in associated value chain roles such as financing.

Here, we explore some of the most notable global events and trends and the potential impact or bearing they have on the local and global market.

Governments and companies around the world have been increasingly focused on transitioning towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. This shift is motivated by concerns about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Africa, including Botswana, is part of these discussions, as we work to collectively ensure a greener and more sustainable future. Indeed, this is now a greater priority the world over. It aligns closely with the increase in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing being observed. ESG investing has become increasingly popular, and many investors are now looking for companies that are focused on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. This trend could have significant implications for the oil and fuel industry, which is often viewed as environmentally unsustainable. Relatedly and equally key are the evolving government policies. Government policies and regulations related to the Oil and Gas industry are likely to continue evolving with discussions including incentives for renewable energy and potentially imposing stricter regulations on emissions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a strong role. Over the last two years, the pandemic had a profound impact on the Oil and Gas industry (and fuel generally), leading to a significant drop in demand as travel and economic activity slowed down. As a result, oil prices plummeted, with crude oil prices briefly turning negative in April 2020. Most economies have now vaccinated their populations and are in recovery mode, and with the recovery of the economies, there has been recovery of oil prices; however, the pace and sustainability of recovery continues to be dependent on factors such as emergence of new variants of the virus.

This period, which saw increased digital transformation on the whole, also saw accelerated and increased investment in technology. The Oil and Gas industry is expected to continue investing in new digital technologies to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This also means a necessary understanding and subsequent action to address the impacts from the rise of electric vehicles. The growing popularity of electric vehicles is expected to reduce demand for traditional gasoline-powered cars. This has, in turn, had an impact on the demand for oil.

Last but not least, geopolitical tensions have played a tremendous role. Geopolitical tensions between major oil-producing countries can and has impacted the supply of oil and fuel. Ongoing tensions in the Middle East and between the US and Russia could have an impact on global oil prices further, and we must be mindful of this.

On the home front in Botswana, all these discussions are relevant and the subject of discussion in many corporate and even public sector boardrooms. Stanbic Bank Botswana continues to take a lead in supporting the Oil and Gas industry in its current state and as it evolves and navigates these dynamics. This is through providing financing to support Oil and Gas companies’ operations, including investments in new technologies. The Bank offers risk management services to help oil and gas companies to manage risks associated with price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and regulatory changes. This includes offering hedging products and providing advice on risk management strategies.

Advisory and support for sustainability initiatives that the industry undertakes is also key to ensuring that, as companies navigate complex market conditions, they are more empowered to make informed business decisions. It is important to work with Oil and Gas companies to develop and implement sustainability strategies, such as reducing emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy. This is key to how partners such as Stanbic Bank work to support the sector.

Last but not least, Stanbic Bank stands firmly in support of Botswana’s drive in the development of the sector with the view to attain better fuel security and reduce dependence risk on imported fuel. This is crucial towards ensuring a stronger, stabler market, and a core aspect to how we can play a role in helping drive Botswana’s growth.  Continued understanding, learning, and sustainable action are what will help ensure the Oil and Gas sector is supported towards positive, sustainable and impactful growth in a manner that brings social, environmental and economic benefit.

Loago Tshomane is Manager, Client Coverage, Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), Stanbic Bank Botswana

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Brands are important

27th March 2023

So, the conclusion is brands are important. I start by concluding because one hopes this is a foregone conclusion given the furore that erupts over a botched brand. If a fast food chef bungles a food order, there’d be possibly some isolated complaint thrown. However, if the same company’s marketing expert or agency cooks up a tasteless brand there is a country-wide outcry. Why?  Perhaps this is because brands affect us more deeply than we care to understand or admit. The fact that the uproar might be equal parts of schadenfreude, black twitter-esque criticism and, disappointment does not take away from the decibel of concern raised.

A good place to start our understanding of a brand is naturally by defining what a brand is. Marty Neumier, the genius who authored The Brand Gap, offers this instructive definition – “A brand is a person’s gut feel about a product or service”. In other words, a brand is not what the company says it is. It is what the people feel it is. It is the sum total of what it means to them. Brands are perceptions. So, brands are defined by individuals not companies. But brands are owned by companies not individuals. Brands are crafted in privacy but consumed publicly. Brands are communal. Granted, you say. But that doesn’t still explain why everybody and their pet dog feel entitled to jump in feet first into a brand slug-fest armed with a hot opinion. True. But consider the following truism.


Brands are living. They act as milestones in our past. They are signposts of our identity. Beacons of our triumphs. Indexes of our consumption. Most importantly, they have invaded our very words and world view. Try going for just 24 hours without mentioning a single brand name. Quite difficult, right? Because they live among us they have become one of us. And we have therefore built ‘brand bonds’ with them. For example, iPhone owners gather here. You love your iPhone. It goes everywhere. You turn to it in moments of joy and when we need a quick mood boost. Notice how that ‘relationship’ started with desire as you longingly gazed upon it in a glossy brochure. That quickly progressed to asking other people what they thought about it. Followed by the zero moment of truth were you committed and voted your approval through a purchase. Does that sound like a romantic relationship timeline. You bet it does. Because it is. When we conduct brand workshops we run the Brand Loyalty ™ exercise wherein we test people’s loyalty to their favourite brand(s). The results are always quite intriguing. Most people are willing to pay a 40% premium over the standard price for ‘their’ brand. They simply won’t easily ‘breakup’ with it. Doing so can cause brand ‘heart ache’. There is strong brand elasticity for loved brands.


Now that we know brands are communal and endeared, then companies armed with this knowledge, must exercise caution and practise reverence when approaching the subject of rebranding. It’s fragile. The question marketers ought to ask themselves before gleefully jumping into the hot rebranding cauldron is – Do we go for an Evolution (partial rebrand) or a Revolution(full rebrand)? An evolution is incremental. It introduces small but significant changes or additions to the existing visual brand. Here, think of the subtle changes you’ve seen in financial or FMCG brands over the decades. Evolution allows you to redirect the brand without alienating its horde of faithful followers. As humans we love the familiar and certain. Change scares us. Especially if we’ve not been privy to the important but probably blinkered ‘strategy sessions’ ongoing behind the scenes. Revolutions are often messy. They are often hard reset about-turns aiming for a total new look and ‘feel’.



Hard rebranding is risky business. History is littered with the agony of brands large and small who felt the heat of public disfavour. In January 2009, PepsiCo rebranded the Tropicana. When the newly designed package hit the shelves, consumers were not having it. The New York Times reports that ‘some of the commenting described the new packaging as ‘ugly’ ‘stupid’. They wanted their old one back that showed a ripe orange with a straw in it. Sales dipped 20%. PepsiCo reverted to the old logo and packaging within a month. In 2006 Mastercard had to backtrack away from it’s new logo after public criticism, as did Leeds United, and the clothing brand Gap. AdAge magazine reports that critics most common sentiment about the Gap logo was that it looked like something a child had created using a clip-art gallery. Botswana is no different. University of Botswana had to retreat into the comfort of the known and accepted heritage strong brand.  Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital was badgered with complaints till it ‘adjusted’ its logo.



So if the landscape of rebranding is so treacherous then whey take the risk? Companies need to soberly assess they need for a rebrand. According to the fellows at Ignyte Branding a rebrand is ignited by the following admissions :

Our brand name no longer reflects our company’s vision.
We’re embarrassed to hand out our business cards.

Our competitive advantage is vague or poorly articulated.
Our brand has lost focus and become too complex to understand. Our business model or strategy has changed.
Our business has outgrown its current brand.
We’re undergoing or recently underwent a merger or acquisition. Our business has moved or expanded its geographic reach.
We need to disassociate our brand from a negative image.
We’re struggling to raise our prices and increase our profit margins. We want to expand our influence and connect to new audiences. We’re not attracting top talent for the positions we need to fill. All the above are good reasons to rebrand.

The downside to this debacle is that companies genuinely needing to rebrand might be hesitant or delay it altogether. The silver lining I guess is that marketing often mocked for its charlatans, is briefly transformed from being the Archilles heel into Thanos’ glove in an instant.

So what does a company need to do to safely navigate the rebranding terrain? Companies need to interrogate their brand purpose thoroughly. Not what they think they stand for but what they authentically represent when seen through the lens of their team members. In our Brand Workshop we use a number of tools to tease out the compelling brand truth. This section always draws amusing insights. Unfailingly, the top management (CEO & CFO)always has a vastly different picture of their brand to the rest of their ExCo and middle management, as do they to the customer-facing officer. We have only come across one company that had good internal alignment. Needless to say that brand is doing superbly well.

There is need a for brand strategies to guide the brand. One observes that most brands ‘make a plan’ as they go along. Little or no deliberate position on Brand audit, Customer research, Brand positioning and purpose, Architecture, Messaging, Naming, Tagline, Brand Training and may more. A brand strategy distils why your business exists beyond making money – its ‘why’. It defines what makes your brand what it is, what differentiates it from the competition and how you want your customers to perceive it. Lacking a brand strategy disadvantages the company in that it appears soul-less and lacking in personality. Naturally, people do not like to hang around humans with nothing to say. A brand strategy understands the value proposition. People don’t buy nails for the nails sake. They buy nails to hammer into the wall to hang pictures of their loved ones. People don’t buy make up because of its several hues and shades. Make up is self-expression. Understanding this arms a brand with an iron clad clad strategy on the brand battlefield.

But perhaps you’ve done the important research and strategy work. It’s still possible to bungle the final look and feel.  A few years ago one large brand had an extensive strategy done. Hopes were high for a top tier brand reveal. The eventual proposed brand was lack-lustre. I distinctly remember, being tasked as local agency to ‘land’ the brand and we outright refused. We could see this was a disaster of epic proportions begging to happen. The brand consultants were summoned to revise the logo. After a several tweaks and compromises the brand landed. It currently exists as one of the country’s largest brands. Getting the logo and visual look right is important. But how does one know if they are on the right path? Using the simile of a brand being a person – The answer is how do you know your outfit is right? It must serve a function, be the right fit and cut, it must be coordinated and lastly it must say something about you. So it is possible to bath in a luxurious bath gel, apply exotic lotion, be facebeat and still somehow wear a faux pas outfit. Avoid that.

Another suggestion is to do the obvious. Pre-test the logo and its look and feel on a cross section of your existing and prospective audience. There are tools to do this. Their feedback can save you money, time and pain. Additionally one must do another obvious check – use Google Image to verify the visual outcome and plain Google search to verify the name. These are so obvious they are hopefully for gone conclusions. But for the brands that have gone ahead without them, I hope you have not concluded your brand journeys as there is a world of opportunity waiting to be unlocked with the right brand strategy key.

Cliff Mada is Head of ArmourGetOn Brand Consultancy, based in Gaborone and Cape Town.

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