After affiliating to the Federation Internationale de Automobile (FIA) in December last year, Botswana is set to emulate regional giants such as South Africa and become a motorsport powerhouse.
The successful affiliation through the Botswana Motor Sport Association (BMSA) has already attracted a training grant of over P 700 000 from the international motorsport governing body. Among others, the FIA runs Formula One, a billion pula circuit race regarded by many as the pinnacle of Motorsport. They also run the elite World Rally Championships (WRC) that tours different continents around the world every year. The FIA liaisons officer in Botswana Simon Modisaeman said Botswana is already a motorsport country, arguing that the annual Toyota 1000km desert race is proof of this.
Despite local motorsport being in its infancy, Modisaeman said the sport needs to be nurtured from the grass roots. “We have gone through the training of officials and executive with the help of FIA grants. We need people like marshals and stewards to run professional racing competitions,” he said. Modisaeman added they have so far trained over 28 people between 17th and 18th May. Modisaeman who has been affiliated to the FIA mobility side through his company Emergency Assist 991 opined that motorsport will not grow quickly in the country as it has to go through a transition period first. “Motorsport events like rally and off-road competitions have the potential to bring revenue and tourism to the country.
We therefore plan to develop the sport from the grass roots to make it more successful. When you develop a child in motorsport from an early age they will gradually develop and attract sponsors as they advance. This is how the likes of Formula One legend Michael Schumacher started,” he said, adding that it was a problem that the country does not have a single racing track. Modisaeman said the BMSA plans to lobby government to allow go-kart races that can be held in the parking lots of shopping malls. According to Modisaeman staging rally races where popular racing salons like Subaru Impreza are used is also a possibility in Botswana. “I have been to Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya to benchmark on their rally races,” he said, dispelling the perception that motorsport was predominantly an expensive sport dominated by white people.