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Transportation a major setback for Botash

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Transportation costs remains a major challenge for the business operations of Botswana Ash (Botash), management has said. 

Unlike other commodities whose pricing is dictated by the volatile global market conditions, Botash Operations Manager Kangangwane Phatshwane explained that market conditions are not so much a factor for their product. However, this is not to suggest that they are immune to market conditions.

“We do not experience price escalations unlike with other commodities of copper and nickel as it has been observed lately. The most challenging aspect in Botash is transportation.” Phatshwane said last week in Sowa Town where Botash had hosted the local media.

Transporting their product to the market is very costly. “We spend P300million to the South to transport soda ash and coarse salt per annum and this impact on our profit margins every year,” added Managing Director Montwedi Mphathi.

This amount is shared between Botswana Railways and South Africa’s Transnet, he explained. Road transport, said Mphathi, costs economies a lot of money more than it can be imagined. Botash uses road transport to transport their product to the North.

As part of the company’s strategic themes, Botash will look into the supply chain and logistics capability to optimise its existing supply chain and design a market strategy with logistics channels in mind. 

Part of the company’s project in line with the theme; is to accessible to customers and develop pre-packs for the market. Mphathi said they are currently concluding warehousing and delivery options in this area. Botash is also looking to set Zambia as a hub to make products readily accesible to customer and develop pre-packacks for the market.

In another development, Botash is looking to develop a new customer base in Sub Saharan Africa for soda ash and salt. The targeted markets are Mozambique, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Angola and DRC and the existing South Africa.

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SMEs benefit from Consumer Fair growth

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The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has applauded Botswana Consumer Fair’s continued efforts to improve small to medium enterprises’ linkages.

BITC Chief Executive Officer, Keletsositse Olebile, when opening the fair, said the event has provided interactive forum for both local and foreign exhibitors. He said the shopping show has enabled manufacturers, wholesalers and traders to market their products directly to consumers, an alignment to government’s endeavors.

“As part of government intention, we continually encourage local sourcing by retailers and distributors,” said Olebile who is just few months into his new post. He further celebrated the growth of Botswana Consumer Fair over the years, attributing the expansion to quality of goods displayed at the previous shows.“Improved quality and increased variety of wares increases the interest of the visitors and makes them look forward to returning the following year,” said Olebile.

This year’s exhibitors at the 13th event still running under the banner: ‘It is more than just shopping’ have been drawn from Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Japan, India, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Consumer Fair is a flagship event for Fairgrounds Holdings and provides a platform for small medium enterprises (SMEs) from the different sectors of the economy to showcase and promote their products and services. In addition, the SMEs are expected to establish long term business linkages and promote local manufactured goods.Fairgrounds Holdings is already optimistic that the Fair immensely contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through supporting SMEs.

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‘Involve SMMEs in standards development’-Minister

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo appealed to Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to include the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) when developing the standards to improve the sector.

She said the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has identified three areas of focus going forward which are modeled on SMME development, investment promotion and export development apexes. “I would like to implore you to include this sector in standards development processes and assist in improving SMMEs conformity to standards and compliance to technical regulations,” said Kenewendo.

Speaking during the BOBS Technical Committee Members appreciation ceremony on Thursday, Kenewendo explained that the important roles of standards are underpinned by the aspirations and intentions espoused in both diversified export led economic growth and job creation as priority areas. “It goes without saying that the diversification of the economy requires a National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework that promote competitiveness of Botswana goods and services.”

She also emphasized that an effective National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework are essential as they provide crucial links to global trade, market access and export competitiveness through their contribution to consumer confidence in product safety, quality and the environment.Since inception in 1997 BOBS has published more than 1700 standards through 48 technical committees across several sectors of the economy; 109 certification licences have been issued against some of these standards. Currently 46 Botswana Standards are being implemented through the standards regulations with a view to protecting the health and safety of consumers as well as protection of the environment.

On her note, BOBS Vice Chairperson of the Standards Council, Professor Edward Dintwa said standards are powerful tools for helping organisations that implement them to realize their potential, have access and compete in the global marketplace. “In this highly competitive and complex world, issues of sustainability and productivity, viewed from economic, environmental and societal perspectives require that businesses must be more efficient in their operations, which can be achieved through the implementation of standards”.

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