Botswana could steal a thunder from South Africa and stake its claim in the region, as reports indicate that an automotive component manufacturing company could relocate operations from South Africa to the diamond rich country to bolster its faltering manufacturing industry.
Reports in Malaysian press suggest that Pahang State Development Economic Corporation (Pasdec) will relocate its Pasdec Automotive Technologies (PAT) plant in Brits, South Africa to Lobatse.
“PAT has a tremendous track record in our ongoing development programmes, which over the years have substantially enhanced the expertise and knowledge of many hundreds of its employees,” Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob was quoted by Daily Express.
“Needless to say, PAT will not deviate from this policy and through our dedication to training, we believe that we can make a meaningful contribution to advancement of skills in Botswana, particularly in Lobaste,” he said.
Botswana’s Trade Minister, Vincent Seretse was quoted as saying: “The top priority in our current development plan is job creation, and it is pleasing to note that in the very first phase of the project, 500 jobs will be created.”
┬áNew Straints Times said the company founded in 1969, is one of South Africa’s leading automotive component manufacturers that helps the design and manufacture world-class automotive wiring harnesses.┬áThe company became part of Pasdec Group in 2000 and among its clients are Nissan, Mercedes Benz and Toyota.
If the reports are anything to go by and indeed the plant relocates to Botswana, it will be a coup for the country, which relies heavily on South Africa for many things.
Botswana is still smarting from the relocation of Hyundai to South Africa that came with loss of hundreds of jobs. By then, local investors lost a bid to save Motor Company Botswana’s (MCB’s) plant in Gaborone to a City of Kimberly’s consortium.
South Africa was the biggest market for Hyundai cars.
“Hyundai was making major inroads into the South African market and giving Toyota and other South Africa based producers a very hard time. But in 2000 the factory was shut down and automobile exports came to an end,” Professor Roman Grynberg wrote in Sunday Standard last year.
Although the closure was blamed on dealings of Billy Rautenbach, the other reason was that South Africa lowering tariffs on imported cars from 115 percent in 1995 to about 25 percent now.
“In order to stop the complete implosion of their automobile industry the South Africans had started to provide massive subsidies for exports and thereby restructure their industry. There was no way they were going to allow some small ‘screw-driver operation’, as their industry commonly calls the Hyundai factory in Botswana, to undermine their industrialisation plans,” argued Grynberg .