Botswana’s first mobile game is expected to be released next month, a start to an anticipated exponential growth of the industry. Though mobile game industry has been growing in some African countries such as Kenya and South Africa, local innovators, animators, script writers and developers are yet to fully jump on the bandwagon.
With over 50 mobile games already produced in Africa, local company Bantu Vision Productions has developed the country’s first mobile game – Free Range, a 3D endless runner mobile game. “Our ultimate goal is to build this industry, it is non-existing in Botswana. We want to show the world that we are ready,” said Richmond Kato Mouti, Bantu Vision Co-Founder and Managing Director, highlighting that most people have ignored mobile game industry, affectionately referred to as dipopae in local lingo.
However, other countries are moving ahead, South African game development industry has seen some staggering growth, in the last few years with titles making waves on the international gaming scene. “We have the resources – talent and skills,” said Mouti, oozing with confidence that mobile games have potential to prop up the local economy, currently making widespread efforts to diversify from diamonds.
As pioneers of the local mobile gaming industry, Mouti highlights that financial challenges has slowed down their pace. Mouti believes a well funded mobile game development should take four months. “Ours has been delayed by painful speed humps that we get along the way,” said Mouti, highlighting that Free Range game concept started last year, and coming up with an original African concept was a challenge.
Mouti believes Africa has a lot more to offer to the international market through mobile games.“The world has used up, all the concepts in the mobile gaming industry, except for the African story. There is hunger for the African content. “We (mobile game developers) are not exposing Africa and the world is hungry for the continent,” said Mouti emphasizing mobile game market is international and not limited to local.
His sentiments were also shared by Free Range scriptwriter Serena Serene Mmifinyana who believes the game has potential to reach a different audience. “The game has a lot of life, captures a lot of landscape. We were looking for something authentic,” said Mmifinyana.
The launch of Free Range is expected next month for free on iOS, Android and Windows; it will also be accompanied by an animated cartoon series. Meanwhile the company has also teamed up with eBotswana to produce an animation for children titled Zed the Zebra.
Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft
Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.
Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.
There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”
The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”
During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.
Calls to improve crop yields with technology
Greenhouse Technologies managing director, Amanda Masire has urged entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture as it is a lucrative business and more beneficial to the national economic development, despite climate change challenges.
Speaking to Business Trends, Masire said there is a need for more training and knowledge on modern agriculture technologies for the country to have sustainable food production. “I am passionate about agriculture and food production. I want to help my country to produce food for itself and reduce dependency on imports. I have learnt that despite all the challenges of climate change, we can still produce our own food through the use of modern technologies,” said Masire.
Masire is an agri-business developer, specializing in horticulture, beekeeping and fish farming. She currently operates Greenhouse Farmers Academy offering training and mentorship on horticulture farming. “Agriculture is the most lucrative business that young people should be looking into. Currently, we depend much on South Africa. We should rise up and develop the sector because as Batswana we have rich land that we are not utilising.” Her services include horticulture starter kit, which includes business plans, lessons, fertilisers and all equipments necessary for a particular horticulture project.
She is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security to develop the ISPAAD Program. She said government would embrace modern farming technologies to improve food production. “Most Batswana have lands which they are currently not ploughing because of climate change conditions while the government gives out fertilizers and seeds every year to subsistence farmers yet there is no yield. I have come up with solutions, which include testing soil and supplying lime treatment to reduce acidity. This will help improve crop yield when adopted with other technologies,” she said.
Speaking during Stanbic Lionness Lean In Africa, Masire said with the challenges in the agriculture sector, Batswana should stop looking much into the problems and getting discouraged but should rather think of solutions. “Government is trying but we individuals also need to be innovative and assist government in improving food security. Young people should take opportunity of the agri-business market and reduce unemployment,” said Masire.
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