Indian interest

Baitshepi Sekgweng
HUGE POTENTIAL: Pharmaceuticals

Seeking new trade links with Botswana, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) sent a 55-member team to the country to talk business.

The Indian delegation met up with their local counterparts, Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association (BEMA) in Gaborone last week, where opportunities and possible working ties were discussed and a two-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed.

Reflecting on a fruitful trip, FIEO Vice President, Khalid Khan confirmed they identified several areas with massive potential, and are especially excited to explore the Pharmaceuticals and Textile sectors.

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“Areas of Textile, Pharmaceuticals are huge here and big businesses can be made. We are trying to cut [out] the middle man and make the value chain more productive for Botswana,” revealed Khan, whose organisation was set-up by the Indian government in 1965 with the mandate of boosting the country’s international trade.

Khan noted they intend to engage BEMA further in regards to sales of goods from India and sourcing raw materials.

“There is a lot of opportunities for products which are manufactured here which can find a market in India so we are looking at engaging in bilateral relations between the two countries which will include sharing of data and information from both countries,” continued Khan, whose country is one of the world leaders when it comes to trade.

Indian interest

As part of the MoU, BEMA will benefit from skills transfer and technology and skills development programmes from FIEO.

Similarly, BEMA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mmantlha Sankoloba, re-affirmed the organisations’ ambition to tap into the potentially lucrative Pharmaceutical market.

“We have indigenous raw materials here which we export. But, if we were to keep them, India, with their technology and knowledge, might as well explore the value chains in the industry,” said Sankoloba.

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She pointed to Devil’s Claw – a plant native to Southern Africa used to treat pain, liver and kidney problems, fever, and malaria – as the perfect example.

“We can keep the Devil’s Claw, which we export to EU, here, process it here and create jobs,” stated Sankoloba.

Going the other way, FIEO were also on the lookout for products and raw materials Botswana might need from them.

“The Automotive sector stood out, since they have many components which Botswana don’t have. They also met with Textiles industry players where more conversations were around supplying raw materials they manufacture in India. The same material we buy from SA are from India as we discovered. Issue of pricing will be addressed and quality,” shared Sankoloba.

“With regards to the supply chain, we are looking up to India for raw materials because they have lot of them. Most of the products we make here are set to be too expensive compared to other markets. So we are trying to eliminate that by getting to suppliers directly, cutting off the mark ups of the middleman, therefore making it cheaper to produce and affordable products for consumers,” she highlighted.

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FIEO establishing a footprint in Botswana has been hailed as a good move for the country as she seeks to shrug off the economical effects of Covid-19.

“The whole idea now is what can we supply them with and how can we modify it. Remember that one of the export commodities we pride ourselves with is beef and India is a multi religious country but we should study the market and see where in India we can sell our beef. We need to delve into the market and see what’s their appetite and creating other markets perhaps which they have been supplying and how can we share those markets,” concluded Sankoloba when asked if there are any products they are looking to secure a market for in India.

Traditionally, Botswana’s trade with India has centered on diamonds, pharmaceuticals, scrap iron and refined petroleum.

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