In the build up towards last elections, Batswana were sold a dream that the country was on course to producing an electric car. That was by itself not a bad thing.
In fact if it happened it would have amounted to a big human achievement for Botswana.
The bad thing is it that was not a carefully thought through idea. It was just thrown about.
A really terrible thing is that the originators of the ideas knew at the time that it was not practical for Botswana. In other words it was intended to mislead people while delivering votes for those who were banding it around .
The country is now headed for the second elections due next year. And not a single car has been produced. In fact there no site for an electric car manufacturing plant in Botswana.
It doesn’t look like an electric car is among the country’s aims or goals. In fact nobody talks about it any longer.
Countries with established car manufacturing industries are finding it hard to transition to electric cars chiefly because of difficulties related to getting the important components like batteries. The covid pandemic has resulted in immense supply chain disruptions.
It is like the world is starting all over again. And countries that think smartly are likely to benefit from what emerges from these ashes. Going forward car batteries, not just for electric cars are going to be an important component for car production. Battery manufacturing needs big investment if they are to be produced at scale.
Car manufacturers are only able to take big decisions on starting production when there is a secure and guaranteed battery production.
Instead of trying to climb the tree from the top as Botswana politicians tried to do all they could have done would have been to cut the cloth according to their coat.
There was absolutely no need to play politics.
Car manufacturing requires a large body of parts to be available locally for the production line to be viable and economical.
That is even more so with electric cars. At the moment Botswana does not have even the most elementary reason to talk about manufacturing an electric car. But the country can still dream about producing some components that can be shipped to the car manufacturers. To stand a chance such components should be produced and priced competitively.
The battery is one such component.
It certainly can be attractive for some big scale car manufacturers to source batteries from Botswana if they such batteries are manufactured to quality, to speed and to scale.
For electric cars, a battery is the single most expensive component. Producing it is difficult mainly because of headaches of the geopolitics surrounding supply chain.
Chips are going to be scarce going forward. Yet these chips are most prized when it comes to manufacturing electric cars.
In other words those who came up with the idea of an electric car can scale it down to manufacturing batteries.
The scope is achievable. And while saving their faces will also make Botswana an important hub in the overall scheme of electric car manufacturing.