“Conversation can vary depending on where in the country one may be, but it is normal to start a conversation about football, including European teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, and to talk about the weather (rain or hot weather).”
Do you want more info and tips on how to do business in Botswana? Then read our interview with his Excellency Mr. Samuel O. Outlule, Ambassador of Botswana in Belgium, and discover a promising market!
Key facts and figures
Population: 2 million
Borders: Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Official language: English
GDP: US$ 8,200
Economic growth: 7.2% GDP growth
Currency: Pula (BWP)
How should European businessmen, and particularly potential investors, view the current social and political situation in Botswana?
Five decades of uninterrupted democratic governance, progressive social policies, and significant capital investment have made Botswana one of Africaʼs most stable and prosperous economies. As the world’s largest producer of gem diamonds (in value), Botswana has used its diamond wealth to support steady economic development and is now ranked as a middle-income country. Revenues from diamonds have had a lasting and significant impact on the lives of Batswana in the fields of education, health, infrastructure and employment creation.
Botswana is Africa’s longest-lasting continuous multi-party democracy. It is a mature democracy with a strong track record in the observance of the rule of law and human rights. Botswana offers an increasingly attractive environment in which to do business and prosper. International investors can be confident that their investments are legally protected in Botswana. The sanctity of commercial contracts is enshrined in commercial law ensuring that business interests are well protected.
His Excellency Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana and Leader of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), is currently serving a second and final five-year term after the BDP emerged victorious in the country’s 2014 General Elections held in October 2014, the country’s eleventh elections since independence in 1966.
Which segments of the Botswana market currently offer the most opportunities for European exporters?
Great investment potential can currently be found in abundance in the jewellery manufacturing sector, due to the relocation of the DeBeers Head Office from London to Gaborone, a development which has transformed Botswana’s diamond industry.
While the diamond sector will continue to underpin Botswana’s GDP, the Government has been working hard to promote economic diversification through the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD). An interest in investment from Europe would certainly assist Botswana in achieving this goal.
What are some of the challenges that European SMEs encounter there? How can they be overcome?
Speaking the local languages – This mainly occurs when foreign investors tend to live and remain only in their own areas and do not always intermingle with the local population. This can be addressed by simply going out of their way to be part of the community and to be integrate. Batswana are very friendly and welcoming to foreigners. They would give their last chicken to a guest to ensure that they have a meal to eat!
The small domestic market – This can be overcome, however, by exporting to the bigger market of SADC.
What advice do you have for European SMEs seeking to invest or do business in Botswana? What would be the first thing you would recommend?
It would be advisable to visit Botswana to first see and make their own impressions, talk to the Chambers of Commerce, engage with citizens (called ‘Batswana’) in the private sector, and also other Europeans already involved in Botswana’s private sector.
Do you have any tips on how to do business with Botswana business people?
It is recommended that investors work with a local institution such as Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) or Botswana Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM). BITC provides effective investor facilitation and aftercare services while BOCCIM is the vanguard and main voice of the private sector in Botswana. Collaboration with such institutions would ensure that investors work closely with someone who understands how the system operates and can facilitate the different processes required for setting up a business in Botswana.
It is important in all aspects to do things on the table and not under the table. Do not offer a bribe to anyone. You may use the services of attorneys, international accounting firms and company secretaries to facilitate specific business needs such as company registration, office rental agreements, and so forth.
Regarding conversation; the first thing is to greet people, dumela mma (to a woman), dumela rra (to a man); remember to express thanks or gratitude, ke a leboga mma (to a woman), ke a leboga rra (to a man). Conversation can vary depending on where in the country one may be, but it is normal to start a conversation about football, including European teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, and to talk about the weather (rain or hot weather).