Partnerships, Export Channels, and Business Ventures in Botswana

While Botswana is a landlocked country, the nation can play an important role in creating (export) linkages with the region, the African continent, and the world at large. A key player enabling these linkages is the private sector. As such, NABC sat down with the Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Export and Manufacturing Association to look into how private sector cooperation with Botswana can enable mutually beneficial results.

21st of February 2022 News item

As the chair of the private sector within the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) as well as a private sector representative in the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), the Botswana Export and Manufacturing Association (BEMA), understand the need to enable mutually beneficial connections between Botswana and international investors. The business association specialises in the manufacturing and export value chain, all whilst advocating for the ease of doing business with national and international partners. 

As stated by Ms. Mmantlha Sankoloba, the Chief Executive Officer of BEMA, Botswana is a small market that can become an export-led country once the business ecosystem is fully developed. “Along with internal support, foreign investments would boost the growth of the manufacturing, agriculture, services, and tourism sectors”, she noted. 

Currently, the manufacturing sector accounts for 5.4% of the GDP, but Ms. Sankoloba believes there is potential for a lot more. The country boasts opportunities in food and beverage processing, garment manufacturing, and metal production amongst others. “With the creation of the Kazungula Bridge, the logistics and transportation for manufactured goods can be carried out seamlessly between neighbouring countries such as Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe”, Ms. Sankoloba stated. In addition, the special economic zones within Botswana are geared towards empowering the manufacturing sector and having it as a central export, meaning there are multiple incentives for investors looking to operate within these zones. 

Moreover, according to Ms. Sankoloba, the agriculture sector is also underexplored. With vast amounts of unoccupied fertile land and commercial farmers, there are ample opportunities for agricultural commodities to grow. “Alongside grains and cereals, one rising agricultural commodity is the use and exportation cow meat, leather, and biogas”, explained Ms. Sankoloba. “German multinational BMW has, for example, obtained leather for its vehicles, while more and more companies are looking into the possibilities of using biogas”, she continued. In addition to the opportunities in the agriculture sector, companies operating in the special economic zones can enjoy long-term benefits such as renewable land leases and more. 

With a GDP of 15.3% in the services sector and 18.7% for the tourism sector, these two areas are also sectors worth looking into. “For the finance sector, for example, commercial, multinational or export-import banks are things that can be invested in, while for the tourism sector, there is space for more partnerships”, Ms. Sankoloba mentioned. 

For BEMA’s international export partners, business councils, and embassies based in the United States, India, and various countries around the globe, exporting and trading energy, agricultural commodities, minerals, diamonds, telecommunications, medical equipment, and pharmaceuticals with Botswana has proven to be a success. Ms. Sankoloba believes there is room for European investors to set up successful partnerships, export channels, and business ventures as well. In addition to investment facilitation organisations such as BITC and SEZA, the BEMA network of exporters, manufacturers, service providers, and individuals, assure the connections with the right partners. 

Interested in learning more about the investment opportunities of Botswana? Read more about the country’s open economy, investment incentives, and trade facilitation organisations here