Thursday, April 25, 2024

BDC should partner with Kalahari Airways to deliver Botswana’s first direct flight to Europe

Elsewhere in this edition, we publish a story of a Motswana, of an Irish origin who has aspirations to operate Botswana’s first direct flight to Europe.

Denis Coghlan’s aspirations however have been halted by his lack of adequate finance to start this operation. He has tried all means of sourcing funds for his project but to date he has not been successful.

At some point, Coghlan even tried a crowd-funding campaign. Shortly before that, Coghlan through Kalahari Airways tried his luck with the Botswana Development Corporation ÔÇô a government investment arm that engages in project such as the one that Kalahari Airways want to embark into.

We have been made aware that the BDC had at some point even ‘determined’ that the project meets with their investment criteria and that they are willing to enter into a co-financing agreement with one of the local bank.

Our understanding is that the Government fully supports the provision of direct flights from Gaborone to London thus the BDC, an investment arm of the government should not be seen to be playing ‘hide and seek’ with Kalahari Airways.

If the BDC or government has any kind of doubt to do business with Kalahari Airways it should come out and say so. Kalahari Airways we have been told is ready to have BDC as a shareholder in this project just like they were in Chinese projects that ultimately failed.

The BDC should if at all it want to deny Kalahari Airways a chance to start such a promising business, do so, keeping in mind the fact that the withdrawal of five airlines from Cape Town International Airport, particularly of the South African Airways (SAA)’s daily flights to London, in 2012 resulted in a drop in arriving passengers. This could be an advantage business to Coghlan and his Kalahari Airways who says are ready to compete in this route.
The general expectation is that Coghlan and his Kalahari Airways’ emphasis will be on attracting the premium class diamond industry players, business and tourist passengers in Botswana and Europe.

If BDC was to partner with Kalahari Airways, it would be assured of diamond traders who continue to visit the Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) Gaborone centre every five weeks for the rough diamonds piloting and selling.

The BDC should be reminded that a direct flight between our country and Europe would not only result in massive job creations but also an upward trend in the Foreign Direct Investment. It is quite evident that over the years Botswana has done much in pursuing its own strategies and assembling its own baskets of incentives to attract new investments. The sad reality is that not much FDI inflow has been realized.

Perhaps the BDC should bear in mind figures that show that in spite of increasing FDI flows into Africa, including Botswana, not all African countries are experiencing an influx of FDI. For Botswana this is partly due to lack of direct flights to the developed part of the world such as Europe.

At the same time, when making a decision of what Kalahari Airways has proposed to them, the BDC executives should not forget that as pits of our diamonds mines deepens there is understandable anxiety to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country. The Bottom-line is that the creation of more jobs and increase of foreign direct investment could be unlocked by allowing those with business aspirations to implement them by assisting them in any way possible.


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