Botswana experienced continuous fuel shortages in the previous years which impacted the economy negatively. With the establishment of Botswana Oil Limited (BOL), government took steps to ensure that there is a Botswana entity that will manage the countries fuel reserves. In an exclusive interview, Sunday Standard Reporter Kabelo Seitshiro speaks to Botswana Oil Limited founding Chief Executive Officer Willie Mokgatlhe on the company’s road map.
BOL CEO Mokgatlhe says one of the major challenges facing Botswana is that in the past the economy was reliant on a single source of supply of petroleum products. As a result, the Botswana Oil Limited is working hard to address this through forming strategic partnerships that will facilitate the diversification of sources of product.
Mokgatlhe adds that setting such alliances will also assist the company to address another major challenge which is Botswana’s limited bulk strategic storage facilities.
“We will be addressing this challenge through developing storage facilities locally, in the medium term as well as sourcing bulk storage facilities in various locations external to Botswana. These efforts will significantly increase the country’s strategic fuel reserves,” he said.
With some observers stating that the local oil industry has been, for many years, self-regulating and as such the anticipated entry of many smaller and medium players would require that new laws be put in place to ensure orderly development of the industry and protection of the consumer.
Mokgatlhe agrees and points out that government’s drive to introduce new laws is a welcome development as it would provide security for the investor and further allow new entrants to enter the market through the removal of barriers to entry.
“We have been able to achieve some success in the period that we have been operational. We have developed our 5 year strategy and resourced the company in accordance with the strategy. This includes allocation of financial resources as well as human capital,” said Mokgatlhe.
The BOL chief believes that the oil industry is very competitive in the international markets. He says as a company, they have entered into cooperation agreements with regional national companies like PetroSaSouth Africa, Namcor Namibia and Petromoc Mozambique. Mokgatlhe strongly believes that the agreements will enable them to work together to achieve economies of scale with a view procure and deliver products at competitive prices.
“Petroleum products are the cornerstone of the development of the economy of Botswana. If you critically analyse the various sectors of the economy you will see that these products support the running of the mining industry, the tourism sector and the agricultural sector,” said Mokgatlhe.
It is expected that the Botswana Oil Limited, through attainment of its strategic intent will be contributing to the domestic economy development. He added that they will also be playing a significant role in contributing towards the diversification of the economy through facilitating the participation of citizen companies in the oil industry.
“We have to ensure security of fuel products in our country by ensuring adequate storage facilities in and outside the country, and the efficient management of the strategic reserves. This will be supported by capacity building in the organisation to ensure the right skills are in place to deliver on the company’s vision.
He observed that companies like Sasol in South Africa have grown to become international operators on the back drop of converting coal to fuels and chemicals. He further said that, BOL mandate allows them to play in the exploration and production space, which, if successful would result in significant economic diversification.
Mokgatlhe tells Sunday Standard that the implementation of the corporate strategy has commenced across all functions which includes operations, supply and manufacturing as well as corporate services. Each business unit is aligned to the corporate strategy and executes accordingly.
“The main objective has been to resource the BOL strategy and drive the strategic direction of the organisation. This involved recruitment of staff, allocation of financial resources and putting into place key strategic plans that would enable us to attain the objectives of the organisation. This was coupled with ensuring continuous communication with implementing partners and other key stakeholders,” said Mokgatlhe.
He believes that the company will become a platform which will leave a legacy, a solid foundation for growth, making significant contribution to the country. He added that Botswana Oil Limited serves as a government of Botswana’s transformation agent in the oil industry and is mandated to ensure security and efficiency of supply and distribution of petroleum products in Botswana. He pointed out that it will manage state-owned strategic fuel reserve facilities, strategic stocks as well as bulk storage and distribution; and facilitate participation of citizen emerging companies in the petroleum sector.
“We have also received tremendous support from our shareholder, the government of Botswana through the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources as well as the interim Board of the organisation,” he said.