LICHTENBERG, South Africa: A Botswana citizen-owned chain store, Choppies Group, has this week opened its seventh branch outside the country amid ululations from a crowd of South African citizens who witnessed the occasion here.
The development was described by authorities as a giant leap in the growing of the relationship that exists between the two countries.
Edna Molewa, North West Premier, who conducted the official opening, expressed her government’s appreciation of Choppies’ decision to establish yet another outlet in her country, adding that it strengthened the already existing connection between the peoples of Botswana and South Africa.
“We celebrate also the fact that the investment will have multiple impacts on the lives of South Africans, especially in the North West area,” said delighted Molewa.
It will further deepen the ties that date back in historical terms to many years, which continues to manifest in economic, education and arts as well as cultural links between the two countries.
Molewa stated that the launching of the Choppies in Lichtenberg should be viewed in the context of optimising the utilisation of our existing infrastructure which links us to the whole region.
“Please make use of our Investment Promotion Agency, and feel free to contact the Municipal authorities for utilities and other services as would be needed for effective and productive operation,” said Molewa.
She added that if need be, any queries regarding possible obstacles should be appropriately brought to the attention of the relevant authorities.
Furthermore, it is expected that through its connection to local producers, the store will have the effect of stimulating wealth creation and ultimately facilitate the government’s objective of promoting local led development growth.
The North West Provincial Government’s number one lady also pointed out that since a considerable number of South Africans have been employed, and the Group plans to open two more stores within the next four months in the North West, there is more reason to celebrate.
Ram Ottapath, Chief Executive Officer of the Group intimated that his company aims to reach the target of thirty stores in the whole of South Africa by 2010.
To this end, the label is now painted in Setswana speaking provinces of South Africa.
Against this background, Molewa expressed gratitude to the Choppies Group, on behalf of her Provincial government and the South African nation, and “for trusting our economy, that they chose to invest here in spite of the challenges presented by the worldwide financial crisis.”
In addition to creating opportunities for employment, the move was hailed as an indicator of the reciprocal trading relationship that is encouraged by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Both Molewa and the Group Management acknowledged the important role played by the South African Ambassador to Botswana, Dikgang Moopeloa, in facilitating the bilateral trade negotiations that started about two years ago between businesses in the two countries, culminating in this positive development.
Ernest Mogopodi, Secretary General of the Bafokeng Business Association, commended Choppies’ move, saying that it would serve as a vehicle through which “our members who are largely small and medium entrepreneurs would be uplifted in spite of the relatively subsistence level production.”
Choppies entered the South African market in 2008, initially with one shop in Zeerust.
The number has since grown to 6 with Choppies’ projections being to open 10 shops in 2009.