A few weeks ago I set with my mother for our routine early morning tea, as usual while enjoying the early morning tea; we discussed several contemporary issues including; social, economic, political, religious and family affairs.
During this period I made the mistake of announcing that I will be taking a short break from regular commentary in this publication because I wanted a bit of time and space to focus on several emerging socioeconomic opportunities and demands. To my surprise this announcement landed me in trouble, it was the first time I saw and heard my mother relentlessly disagreeing with me in principle.
She felt my intentions were tantamount to betrayal and sabotage especially to those that grow and benefit from my offerings and alternative viewpoint. Nonetheless I maintained my stand and skipped a week or two without any offering; but it wasn’t long before the magnitude of her submissions surfaced through emails, calls, inboxes and accidental face-to-face interactions with habitual and occasional followers of my offerings here.
More importantly during this phase I recalled vividly that this time last year, thus 12 months ago, hence exactly 48 Saturdays and 48 articles since the day Aubrey Lute (editor of this renowned publication) took a huge risk and finally presented me an opportunity no other editor was willing to take.
It was an opportunity I accepted with both hands and never looked backed, it is his gesture and faith in me that has kept me going. These reflections, experiences and considerations catalyzed my return to regular programming earlier than planned and they will keep me in action indefinitely.
Now the subject of the day; Youth Land’less-ness and Youth physiological development or lack thereof; the issues of land and youth development are customarily discussed and resolved distinctly, they have different principals and blueprints. Land falls under the Ministry of Lands and Housing mandate, while Youth development falls under the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture (MYSC) obligation.
Our country’s land allocation and management aspirations are enshrined in our Land Policy while our country’s Youth development and empowerment aspirations are enshrined in our Youth Policy. Notwithstanding the above stated convectional Youth development & Land background this installment seeks to lighten their interrelationship and fundamental cross-cutting inherent implications.
Though distinct in many superficial dimensions; Land & Youth development coincidentally share a few common platforms; they both occupy key sections and sub-sections of the National Vision 2016, respective State of the Nation Addresses (SoNA) and our respective National Development Plans (NDPs).
Nonetheless, I submit that their inclusion in the stated documents is not in any way linked to their interconnection, it is just coincidental, further interrogation of their respective sub-sections will justify my submissions herein. At this juncture, I assume the fact that access to land is huge challenge in Botswana is public knowledge, despite our relatively tiny population and reasonable geographical size.
I assume I do not have to recite the countless land stampedes and land night vigils that characterize our land application processes and are slowly but certainly becoming a normal part of our lives. I also assume I do not have to remind you of the average number of years one has to spend in the waiting-list just to be allocated a tiny portion of land to raise his/her family.
I also assume I do not have to remind you that many Batswana live and work for high rentals in urban and semi-urban areas, simply because Botswana is a heavily centralized republic and most of its citizen are poverty stricken and un- or underemployed while rent and property prices are reported to be among the highest in the whole continent.
I simply assume I do not remind you of these because you know them better than I do, they are a part of your everyday day lives and perhaps most of you can narrate them way much better than this author.
Based on the ‘Youth Bulge’ phenomenon, it has been widely accepted that Botswana, like other countries, is blessed with a Youthful population, therefore land challenges cited above affect youth more than any other age bracket in this republic.
Therefore when we talk of land challenges we talk of Youth development challenges more than anything else. Though I should, I opt not to argue access to land as a key economic growth, economic development and economic diversification challenge for young people in our country.
I believe this is a secondary argument that shall be rightfully and comprehensively articulated in a secondary installment of this Youth Landlessness and Youth development series. For this installment I deliberately and strategically focus on land as a basic human development need.
Those that had a chance to study psychology will know of a legendary American psychologist called, Abraham Maslow. Maslow is best known for creating Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a psychological model predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization (Harper & Row, 1966). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs illustrates that for each and every individual to prosper in life he/she needs to develop through the ranks of the hierarchy.
The hierarchy indicates that first and foremost every individual must have the basic needs or ‘physiological needs’ meet, key among these is decent and affordable housing and/or shelter. Without proper ownership or at least affordable decent shelter Maslow and the psychology fraternity at large caution that such an individual cannot prosper and subsequently achieve much in his/her lifetime and community. They ultimately highlight that such an individual cannot self-actualize in his/her life.
Furthermore distinguished Scottish economist and moral philosopher, Adam Smith, in his publication, The Wealth of Nations, makes an argument that access to land better enables recipients to “appear in public without shame” and to take a meaningful part in the life of their community. He further links access to land with improved “quality of life” or “standard of living” of the recipients and the society at large.
In my interpretation of our NYP (National Youth policy), it (NYP) seeks to see Youth self-actualize and subsequently prosper, thus becoming key agents of our country’s economic diversification and growth. However with the current levels of landlessness among the Youth population, plus the sky-rocketing rental and property prices, I’m afraid from a physiological viewpoint we are better off raking leaves on a cold windy day.
In the eyes of the visionary our current state of affairs warrants a bleak future, for instance renowned nation builders such as, Oliver Tambo once warned, “a nation that fails to provide for its youth has no future and does not deserve one”.
In light of the deliberations above I hope it’s clear the land issue needs to be addressed urgently, properly and sustainably, if we do envision the kind of Botswana related in our vision 2016 and National Development Plans. I strongly believe our current and foreseeable land challenges are not accidental, I believe they are a result of policy deficits and therefore can be easily and accordingly redressed.
In my own time and space I normally ask myself why countries such as France, which is approximately the same geographical size as Botswana, with a population of over 65 million does not rank shortage of land as one of the key national issues? For the first I agree with BCP (Botswana Congress Party) on the Land Audit proposal as a fundamental starting-point.
I prefer the Land Audit over LAPCAS (Land Administration, Processes, Capacity and Systems). Secondly, I think the heavy centralization of resources and basic services in cities has finally caught up with us; overcrowding, ridiculous rent and property prices are just some of the signs and symptoms.
I believe it’s high time our government deliberately and aggressively decentralizes her services; this will directly and automatically reduce most of the land allocation and management challenges discussed above. I also believe it is high time those that are busy advocating for land-quota reservations kindly start engaging in better and more unifying interventions to our current land allocation and management challenges. Otherwise Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs should not be overlooked when issues of land issue and/or youth development are deliberated and/or resolved.
* Taziba is Youth Advocate, Columnist & Researcher with keen interest in Youth Policy, Civic Engagement, Social Inclusion and Capacity Development
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.
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
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.