Thursday, March 4, 2021

Inside how Botswana business can evolve within a digital future

When the internet craze engulfed our nation, it found local businesses engrossed in cultures that were deeply rooted in out dated systems. The urge to embrace the digital age, in the face of a stemmed culture in old systems, posed a huge challenge for local businesses to embrace change and innovation or resist and face extinction.

Mark Casey, Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunication (TMT)’s industry leader in Africa, sheds light on a working remedy that every business needs in this age.
“A business needs a corporate strategy in a digital age. It’s not about a digital strategy,” he says.

He warns that culture eats into a strategy, such that businesses ought to tune their cultures to fall in line with their strategies. Following the launch and presentation of Deloitte’s 2015 TMT predictions, which South Africa hosted two weeks ago, the footprint was extended to Botswana last week Wednesday for the first time since its launch in 2001. TMT dishes global industry trends over a forecasted period of 12 to 18 months. The presentation gave Botswana an opportunity to tap into and draw insight from local robust minds in the TMT sectors.

The borrowed minds comprised of Alan Boshwaen (Chief Executive of Botswana Innovation Hub), Bashi Gaetsaloe (Managing Director of Botswana Development Corporation) Monametsi Kalayamotho (Entrepreneur and Chief Executive of Moro Group) and Nicolas Katsikides (Chief Operations Officer & General Manager-Africa operations of DStv Digital).

The discussions brought to the forefront the way in which business models are evolving within a digital future. Moro Group is a technologically wired company that offers solutions in mobile payments and simplified collections from different payment methods (cards, bank transfers). Backed with rich and on the ground experience, Monametsi Kalayamotho pointed to a deficiency of technology adoption in local communities.

“If government offers a new service, it can only be adopted and digested by an ordinary person if there is somebody within the community who relates to technology, understands it and breaks it down to the people,” he said.

He is a strong advocate for a model that empowers people within communities to spearhead adoption of technologies and benefit from the resulting rippling effect. Mindful that a close interaction with technology by communities lags crudely behind, Kalayamotho however anticipates that the tide will start changing soon.

Bashi Gaetsaloe, who operates in the finance environment, believes that adding value to businesses will come from exploring and applying impactful innovations. He gave the example of sectors such as agriculture and mining as targeted areas of technological revamping.

“We are looking at traditional businesses, but looking at them differently,” he said.
As an indication of the new path that BDC is charting, Gaetsaloe highlighted changes in the business model, focus areas and skills set that have been roped into the organization to respond intelligently to changing needs. However, there are doubts whether BDC will be able to transform a sector such as agriculture, given its deep seated traditional set up. It has previously been noted that farmers in remote areas have very limited access to facilities such as transport and telephones, which makes supplies and marketing costs prohibitively high.

Traditional farmers do not own resources against which financing can be offset, so they tend to run their affairs at very low input costs. However, Gaetsaloe remains optimistic that BDC will offer farmers innovative working solutions that will derive value from agricultural activities.
“Nobody will do anything unless they see that there’s a benefit. Demonstrating that there is value is one of the best ways,” he said.

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