Custodians of the national image – Brand Botswana have implored the nation to move out of its comfort zone and aggressively market the country to the global village. Thuso Palai, Manager of Brand Botswana – International said Botswana is unknown to the world over, making it hard for the country to attract the desired foreign direct investment (FDI).
“It’s not a single entity’s responsibility but a national responsibility,” said Palai citing that global perceptions indexes lowly rate Botswana. “Therefore more needs to be done to promote and position Botswana favourably around the world. A nation’s identity is driven by how Batswana behave with each other and engage with the rest of the world,” Palai added.
The brand specialist said citizens should remember that they are an extension of the brand called Botswana hence the need to communicate with one voice on issues of national interest. “Sometimes our responses are not coherent, we need to speak with one voice,” said Palai citing the currents debates on the country’s wildlife, especially elephants and the recent blacklisting by the European Union (EU) on anti-money laundering (AML) related issues.
“The most vocal should be citizens to defend on some of the things that the international community talks about,” said Palai, highlighting that sometimes government responses can be regarded as propaganda. Palai said though Botswana brand has been doing well in the past other countries have caught up and a new niche has to be found for the country.
“What do we do to differentiate ourselves from other countries,” quizzed Palai. He bemoaned that the country’s perception indexes are going down, despite the country being largely unknown on the global market. According to Palai some of the factors that influence global perceptions about a nation’s brand include sport, arts and culture, tourism or hospitality sector, politics or international relations, immigration, ICT, innovation, technological advancements, people and media.
He emphasized that innovation aids the country’s identity and awareness through its different fields such as technology – software and app development, indigenous knowledge – protecting and packaging coupled with research and development in mining and biotechnology.
Meanwhile, Brand Botswana has pinned its hope on Nation Branding Hexagon strategy to prop up the country’s image. The blueprint focus on tourism, people, exports, trade, investment and immigration, governance, culture and heritage.