Free Will, a two-year-old multimedia house, has made Gaborone available online. Free Will diretors, Leutlwetse Kgosidialwa and Gosegomang Setswamokwena, launched GabsCity.com?s on Thursday and admitted that when, in 2005, they thought of the idea of selling Gaborone through a website dedicated to the city, they had imagined it to be groundbreaking.
?We could not wait to sell it to other countries,? said Kgosidialwa in retrospect. ?We only learned about Joburg.org.za, which has since been endorsed by the South African government, Toronto.com.?
?However, we then started, by first finding out if a Gaborone website existed. We did find a Gaborone.com, not a website, but a domain name registered under a gentleman named Brent Bryce in New York.? Kgosidialwa revealed. ?We also found out that the domain name was up for sale.?
Kgosidialwa said Brent Bryce was contacted, and he offered to sell Free Will, the domain name, for $15 000.
?We thought this was very disrespectful, Re Batswana and we are being demanded of $15 000 for a name that belongs to us,? he asserted. ?We sent him an email response saying, ?keep you domain name,?? Kgosidialwa recalled.
Free Will then resolved to register the domain name, but first, a research was conducted locally. It emerged the locals refer to Gaborone using ?hip? alternatives, such as GC, Gabs, Gabs city, the city of Gabs.
It also appeared in research conducted with the help of students schooling in South Africa, Australia and the US that foreigners also preferred Gabs, because of the difficulty in pronouncing the ?G? in Gaborone. And so the youth orientated initiative, GabsCity.com came into being.
?We have been working on the website for over a year,? Kgosidialwa said.
?The response has been positive and overwhelming but one question was echoed numerous times, ?how do you plan to direct people to the website???
The website launch hosted at Botswanacraft?s courtyard is the beginning of a marketing campaign to unveil GabsCity.com to the public.
A boldly branded GabsCity.com Citi Golf hatchback was revealed. A couple of these Citi Golf cars will be seen fluttering through Gaborone traffic. A free monthly newsletter with weekly updates can be subscribed to through the website.
Other activities are scheduled in the campaign, a triathlon (after winter) and a City Run. ?A City Run would be a parade of Citi Golfs,? Kgosidialwa said, ?and a prize will be given for the best car.?
?However it has been proven that the best form of advertising is word of mouth. By tomorrow thrice the people in this courtyard will now about it,? Kgosidialwa foretold.
The guest of honour, Mrs Alicia Mokone, who is the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology, recalled how she was impressed by Kgosidialwa?s energy drive and enthusiasm when he had visited her to share the concept and ideas regarding GabsCity.com.
?It stuck to my mind,? she said ?and I am happy to see GabCity.com coming into realisation today.?
Representing Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, she said, ?Here is an initiative that combines talent, ingenuity and business sense and a tool that can work with other government initiatives.?
?Like all business,? Mokone said, ?there are challenges of whether the website will grow in popularity.?
This is a product that is very appropriate, she said, an agent, which, if reaching critical mass, could possibly increase the number of tourists coming to Botswana.
?Because I do some travelling to other continents through work, I have used similar products when I want to find hotel accommodation, about the weather, how I get to the hotel from the airport.
?Being an old croc,? she added, ?I often want to find out if there is a jazz club I can visit after work.?
Mokone, congratulated Free Will and encouraged the business community to have a look at the website and invest in it by perhaps placing an advertisement online.