SeaRail (Botswana) (Pty) Limited, a logistics and transport company is expected to open a new office in Gaborone in the first half next year, a top official of the business has disclosed Botswana Guardian.

The company was formed in 2013 to develop and operate a Dry Port land leased by Botswana government in Walvis Bay, Namibia. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary company of Botswana Railways, itself a 100 percent government entity.

“In order to cultivate more business on the Botswana market and in an effort to divert Botswana cargo through other regional ports to Walvis Bay the company is working on establishing an office in Gaborone by June 2022. The target is for Sea Rail to control over 50% of market share on container volumes going to Botswana,” said an upbeat Acting Managing Director of the Sea Rail, Derick Mokgatle.

The opening of the Botswana office will fall under the company’s five year turnaround strategy which is expected to further prop up the company’s revenue, and eventually its bottom line.  Mokgatle is confident that Botswana, its home country, offers so many opportunities, which are yet to be fully tapped. He added, such opportunities can be fully harnessed if Sea Rail partners more with the local private sector and parastatals.

He disclosed that, they have partnered with Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) to explore opportunities for easing Botswana exports into the lucrative Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) market through infrastructure and transport solutions. Sea Rail also has a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in February 2020 which amongst others is for BITC to refer investors wishing to set up in Botswana to liaise with Sea Rail for logistics solutions via Walvis Bay. BITC is the main investment promotion authority in Botswana.

Sea Rail is also working on new MoUs with Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) and other stakeholders in Botswana. “Sea Rail is determined to grow partnerships with clients and other stakeholders to grow volumes for the dry port and these include transporters, and institutions like SEZA and other parastatals and non-governmental organisations,” he stressed.

In addition to providing dry port services of bonded storage facilities and cargo handling Sea Rail offers freight forwarding solutions that include transport and customs clearing to make it a one stop shop for cross border clients wishing to route their goods via the Port of Walvis Bay. Mokgatle, who is Motswana has also announced that, in collaboration with the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, they are currently planning a road show to all the mines in Botswana in February 2022 as well as to hold an information session in conjunction with the Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) in Gaborone to promote the Walvis Bay route.

Botswana is currently experiencing a boom in the mining sector, more especially in the non-diamond sector. Mines which have opened in the past few years include the Botswana Stock Exchange listed Minergy which mines coal in Media village, within the Kweneng district. Khoemacau has also opened a copper mine near Toteng in the North West district. Sandfire Resources is also expected to open a new copper mine in Gantsi sometimes next year. Vision Ridge Investment has also just opened a new iron ore mine in Ikongwe, central district. More mines are also expected in the coming few years as most companies are at advanced stages of exploration and drilling.

Published in Business
Friday, 24 August 2018 08:48

Outsourcing to solve youth unemployment

The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has plans to revitalise business process outsourcing (BPO) initiatives mooted 14 years ago by the then Botswana International Financial Services Company (IFSC) before its merger with Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA), as part of efforts to fight unemployment scourge in the country.

Reginald Selelo, Acting BITC Chief Executive Officer said the current administration’s decision to place youth unemployment at the apex of its agenda has led to identifying BPO as a critical sector for the development of the economy.
“There is willingness by the government to create employment which is one of the biggest priorities particularly for the youth demographic.

“We do not need to look any further than the BPO sector particularly domestic and international contact centres which have a proven track record in creating labour intensive sustainable job opportunities particularly for the youth,” said Selelo highlighting that the country’s spiraling youth unemployment currently sits at 20 percent.

He said the recent decoupling of the network from Botswana Telecommunication(BTC) to form Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet)followed by heavy investments on network infrastructure and other advantages should spur the industry through low data and voice cost.

“Botswana also offers an abundance of IT graduates, other graduates and form five leavers available who are currently unemployed can be employed in the sector,” said Selelo, adding that Batswana have a neutral English speaking accent which can attract international companies to set up call centres in Botswana. Since 2015, BITC has hosted five reputable contact centre companies employing a combined 10, 000 agents in both India and South Africa to benchmark.

“It was evident from the interactions that despite our investment offering being a compelling one there was need to further enable investment attraction through availing tailor-made incentives targeting the BPO sector, if as a country we are keen to grow the sector locally,” said Selelo.

Selelo’s sentiments were also echoed by Asnath Breseno, Direct BPO Managing Director who highlighted that a BPO skills gap exists in the local market. “The labour force is there but people that are skilled are not many and we need to develop that,” said Breseno highlighting that skills development will enable Botswana to compete international in the BPO sector.

Currently only one course is registered with Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) and few individuals are accredited trainers.“If Botswana is to succeed in BPO, we need to have people trained so that we do not struggle to get skilled people” emphasized Breseno. Direct BPO, a subsidiary of telecommunications operator Mascom, set up in 2017 as an alternative revenue stream offering multi-channel contact service, not only limited to voice calls and employing 120 agents, has already started scanning the international market.

“We have already started engaging regional companies. This is not a cast in stone industry, we hope to break into the international market by the 5th year,” said Breseno. Breseno is optimistic that Direct BPO will move from 60 seats to 800/1000 seats in the next four to five years.“It’s something that can be done,” said Breseno.

With a total of 14 call centres currently active in the country, the domestic industry also offers more opportunities for utilities companies, insurance, banking, retail, travel and hospitality sectors offers the BPO sector an opportunity to grow fast and wide. Gareth Pritchard, BPESA Western CapeChief Executive Officer an industry association also encouraged Botswana invests in skills development for the BPO industry.

“Central to the BPO ecosystem is the talent pool,” said Pritchard citing that South Africa is not having any major competition on the continent in the BPO industry. “Most countries are fairly small and on the start up phase, the supply chain is massive,” said Pritchard urging Botswana to come up with a value proposition that will immensely kick off the sector.

Published in Business

Chinese companies that were in Botswana on Monday courtesy of Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) and the China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) have been made aware of the 16 identified projects that present investment opportunities.

 PPP Coordinator, Orono Otweyo told the business delegation comprising of representatives from a range of industries that there is more drive to do PPPs in development projects and therefore Chinese companies looking for investment opportunities need to take note.

He pointed them to projects that include; Zambezi Integrated Agro-Commercial Development Project that entails the provision of irrigation infrastructure, water supply to 45 000 Ha, commercial farming, agro-processing and related infrastructure in the Pandamatenga area. He said so far, seven crops and fruit trees have been identified as suitable, and water for irrigation is to be abstracted from Chobe/Zambezi River.

Another opportunity is the reclamation and treatment of the Gaborone wastewater. According to Otweyo, the project entails wastewater recycling for portable use with a target of providing Gaborone city with up to 20 percent of its water supply needs. “The project involves design, finance, construction, operation and maintenance of a wastewater reclamation plant as well as an upgrade of the current WasteWater Treatment plant,” Otweyo said.

Chinese investors were also briefed about land servicing opportunities, which entail the provision of integrated infrastructure services to land in Kasane, Francistown, Ramotswa and Mochudi to facilitate the development of plots. According to Otweyo, the services will include; roads, storm water drainage, water sewerage, telecommunications, power reticulations and street lighting.  The other investment opportunity is the establishment of a rehabilitation centre in Lobatse.

This project needs investment in design, finance, construction and maintenance of the Offender Rehabilitation Centre with capacity of between 600 and 800 inmates offering physiological, educational and vocational programmes.

Another is the secondary schools staff housing. The project entails design, finance, construction and maintenance of 4 000 high-density staff houses for secondary school teachers throughout the country. Other projects that Otweyo elaborated on include; Sepopa Prison Farm, Prison Headquarters Building, Three Dikgosi Monument, Gaborone Tourism Precinct and Serowe Magistrate Court. Although the conclusion of agreements will depend entirely on negotiations between individual companies from China and Botswana, CCPIT Chairman, Jiang Zengwei said the proof of good China-Africa relations have been the documented major projects that have been fully implemented in Africa.

“China and Botswana economies are highly complementary and we are impressed by Botswana’s open market and capital management,” Zengwei said.  Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Unity Dow is also hopeful that as a result of the visit of the Chinese investors, new Chinese businesses and sectors will set up in Botswana. “We should be able to see positive results 12 months down the line, as to whether this meeting was meaningful,” Dr Dow said.

Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development and Botswana Power Corporation also briefed the Chinese business community about investment opportunities in their specific areas of expertise.

Published in News

Fairgrounds Holdings, the top exhibitions and events hosting boutique is aiming to empower upcoming hospitality graduates by offering them opportunities to learn more from the industry while at the same time molding them to become well rounded professionals who can compete anywhere in the world.


The company that is owned by Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) and Botswana government has been helped by a consultant to come with a structured programme which will make it possible for graduates in various sectors of the hospitality industry to spend between three and six months at the company on an attachment basis. “There are several opportunities in the beverages, food, events management and culinary arts sectors which graduates can learn more about from Fairgrounds,” noted new Chief Executive, Gorata Gabaraane in her maiden meeting with the press recently.

In this regards, the company is planning to partner with local tourism and hospitality schools for the programme to become a success. It will appear there will be even more opportunities for graduates in the hospitality sector as Fairgrounds is planning to expand its facilities which will ensure they become an up market hub for events, networking, conferencing, entailment and eatery. 

A pre-feasibility study on the expansion model has been made but details such as the costs and modalities for expansion are yet to be made public. “That will be made in the medium term,” said Gabaraane.
Fairgrounds sits on an area of 34 hectares, but only 20 percent of such land is utilised, said Gabaraane who has worked for Cresta, a listed hospitality group before joining the company. Meanwhile, the new broom at Cresta has also revealed they will be partnering with industry players to organise top events and conferences which will attract both local and international interests.

Fairgrounds is better known for hosting acclaimed events such as the annual Consumer Fair and the Global Expo organised by Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC). ,
The company said it would continue to return to the community through their Corporate Social Investment activities, added Gabaraane.

Published in Business

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