Thursday, March 4, 2021

If the President cannot apologise, why should Brand Botswana bother?

We all ought to agree to disagree that splashing tax payers’ money is a gift given to certain individuals and organisations in this country. As a result, when such people do their jobs diligently there is no need for anyone to point fingers at them and accuse them of misappropriation of some sort. Actually there is no need for anyone to ask them to apologise or account for the incurred losses since such an act in some cases is their birth right.

After all we are all aware of major government’s projects such as Shakawe Senior School, Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, Francistown stadium, Morupule B Power Station and Palapye Glass project where these gifted individuals diligently poured the tax payers money down the drain. No one was forced to apologise and no one will ever apologise.

Brand Botswana is suspected to have recently spent a lot of money to associate an American rapper, Ja Rule with our gem, diamonds. Although there is no official confirmation on whether it is true that a lot of money was spent on Ja Rule, it is the association of this Ja Rule guy with our diamonds that seems to have not gone down well in some quarters.

Many of us know Jeffery Atkins famously known as Ja Rule is an American rapper whose fame and fortune have overshadowed his criminal acts some ten years back.

Brand Botswana is an arm of the Botswana Investment and Trading Centre (BITC) tasked with strengthening the nation’s competitive identity through application of marketing, communication and stakeholder relation strategies.

The decision by Brand Botswana to associate our diamonds (our main revenue earner) with an ex convict rapper let alone with the hip hop genre whose culture is characterised by guns, liquor and violence clearly shows lack of thorough risk analysis research on the part of Brand Botswana.
Are we that desperate to sell our diamonds this way such that we are failing even to avoid the risk of brand erosion? Mind you branding is all about perceptions and as such we should be careful not to irk our all time consumers who are very sensitive by nature of business.

The purpose of this commentary is not to ask Brand Botswana to apologise for spending so much of tax payer’s money on someone who even before visiting this country had never heard or known a little thing about it. Our interest though is to remind executives of Brand Botswana that in their bid to market and brand this country, they should not let desperation think on their behalf.

These executives should know very well that Brand Botswana as the custodian of the national brand, their key tasks are to promote and appropriately position this country in the global market.
It should as part of its roles make sure that all the initiatives implemented create awareness, acceptance and understanding of the Botswana brand by target groups while at the same time promoting a unified identity of the country and its unique offerings.

Brand Botswana should and must be held accountable for the development, implementation and monitoring of the nation brand strategies and plans of which we hope Ja Rule is not part of.
As some commentators have said before, Botswana has a lot to offer the world and needed to be branded and have a consistent message about who we are, what we stand for, what our offer to the world is and how we add value to the global community.

At the same time, Brand Botswana’s mother company, the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has a tough task ahead of combating the circumstances that impede Botswana’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), index year after year.

It is envisaged that the coming of BITC and let alone Brand Botswana will result in improved cost efficiencies and service delivery as well as reduced public expenditure.

As the first point of contact, BITC is our country’s primary investment and trade promotion authority that serves as the focal point for investment, export development and nation branding.
Through this critical role within the domestic’s economy, the BITC should, through its units such as Brand Botswana encourage domestic investment and expansions, promotes local service groups to regional and international markets, and contributes towards improvement of the investment climate through policy advocacy.

All these efforts should be geared towards increasing citizen participation in the economy as well as creates sustainable job opportunities for all. Not sponsoring Ja Rule for a joy ride to and from Jwaneng mine so that he tweets and hopes that his fans will come to buy our diamonds. Where are our local people who are in the world of fashion….? Kaone Kario, Emma Warious, Mpule Kwelagobe…are they not a better option to effectively use in marketing our diamonds?

The brand Botswana team should undergo a progression and evolutionary concept of branding this nation of ours. Just its launch a few years ago marked a vital milestone in this project and as such the custodians of it should not reverse what has already been achieved. If at all it’s not in place yet we argue the Brand Botswana to produce clear policies, procedures and guidelines for the use of the brand which can be debated at a national level. The Bottom-line though is that no Motswana will cherish this brand and hold it in high esteem as long as they continue to be sidelined when it comes to issues of promoting it. We all ought to position our country as the destination of choice to visit, live and invest.

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