Kangangwani Phatshwane, Managing Director of Botswana Ash (Botash), the country’s sole industrial salt and soda ash producer says the completion of Kazungula Bridge brings endless opportunities for the company as it seeks to expand its business.
Speaking at a media briefing recently, Phatshwane said the bridge comes at a time when the company is implementing new strategies to penetrate new markets, and diversify its product offerings.
Botswana Ash which produces mainly Soda Ash, and Salt currently exports more than 90% of its products to South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, DRC, and Namibia. For Phatshwane, with the near completion of Kazungula Bridge new opportunities, new markets lie in the horizon.
Kazungula Bridge is a billion pula world class structural masterpiece that crosses the mighty Chobe River, connecting Botswana and Zambia. The bridge is 923-metre-long and 18.5-metre-wide with its longest span of 129 metres, featuring a single-line railway track between two traffic lanes and pavements for pedestrians.
The Botash MD explained that currently Soda Ash accounts for the bulk percentage of the company’s product profile, while Salt accounts for just about 25%. He however noted that Bots-Salt as the product is popularly known in the market is a sought after commodity hence its strong market share across key markets in Southern Africa.
The MD shared that in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia, Bots-Salt is the primary house hold product, out beating any other salt imported by those countries. “Our market share in Zimbabwe is over 98 % , while in Zambia we boast of a market share of almost 100 % , Zambia then moves further to export this excess salt to Democratic Republic of Congo , in the region 50 000 tonnes,” he said.
Phatshwane observed that the strong demand of Botswana‘s salt suggests that the product would do well in other markets up north across equator. “We are patiently waiting for the commissioning of the Kazungula Bridge, this will offer us a smooth corridor to the Central Africa, where our expansion drive is heading to, our future as a company lies on the Central African market as we grow our business,” he said.
With regards to diversifying its product offerings Botswana Ash MD revealed that the company is currently embarking on massive product diversification drive to broaden the business. The partly government owned miner is moving swiftly albeit COVID-19 obstacles to kickstart production of Potash, a well sought after fertilizer.
Phatshwane explained that construction of the pilot processing plant is nearing completion and should be commissioned anytime soon; while material testing and assessment of equipments and components to be used in the manufacturing plant is ongoing in Eastern Germany where they will be procured.
He further noted that the Potash project will be a major boost not only to Botash as a business but to Botswana’s food security ambitions as the product is a high output fertilizer of large scale crop production. Another major project in the offing is the production of Bi-carbonate of Soda which will be used to capture sulphur emission from coal burning power generation plants at Murupule and other upcoming coal fueled electricity production projects.
“This Bicarbonate product will help in curbing atmospheric pollution, while in the process producing other industrial products,” said Phatshwane. Botswana Ash (Pty) Ltd (Botash) is owned by the Government of Botswana and Chlor Alkali Holdings (CAH) Group, a South African company, at 50% shareholding each.
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.