The Botswana government is revving up efforts to ensure that citizen entrepreneurs venture into the lucrative oil and energy business.
This week, the Botswana Oil, which is one of the institutions mandated to ensure that more citizens get involved into the sector, brought aspiring businesses and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from across the country to Gaborone to discuss how they can get involved into the sector.
It is estimated that over 90 percent of the oil companies are owned by giant multinational companies with limited participation by Batswana. In an interview, BOL, Chief Executive Officer, Willie Mokgatlhe, bemoaned that the level of participation of citizens in the petroleum oil and gas industry in the country is very low.
He said currently the sector is restricted to the filling stations but the petroleum sector is bigger than that and this presents big opportunities for aspiring businesses to venture into.
“In the petroleum space, opportunities are in a number of areas and when you look at the supply value chain there is procurement of products for the country, transportation and distribution,” said Mokgatlhe whose company is 100 percent government owned and formed to ensure security and efficiency of supply of petroleum products in Botswana.
“As Botswana Oil we are there to show the local citizens on where the opportunities are so that they can then start getting into the business,” said Mokgatlhe. He said the government insists that the sector should be controlled by Batswana. Mokgatlhe however said the oil and gas industry is not an easy industry and has its own challenges and hurdles which need every stakeholder’ input to resolve.
“We are also looking at some of the hurdles and jointly working with government on how to manage and support the companies and start making a meaningful contribution into the petroleum sector,” said Mokgatlhe. The BOL CEO said his company has storage facilities and local companies and players don’t necessarily have to build new facilities.
“We are able to supply products to local companies at the same price as multinational companies so that you are able to complete equally with those multinationals,” said Mokgatlhe. Since the oil and petroleum industry is a fairly new industry, Mokgatlhe said they intend to train and educate locals about the industry. He added that they have come up with policies and programmes to ensure that citizen companies grow.
“As Botswana Oil we are starting to reserve about 30 percent of our works for citizen companies and this intended to make sure that we support them to grow in that space,” said Mokgatlhe. The official also said they are starting to develop smaller facilities that can also be used in the smaller villages to provide fuel.
The Botswana government has also come up with a policy that intends to empower local companies with keen interest to venture first into procurement and retail of petroleum products.