Shell Oil Products Africa announced in 2010 its plans to divert part of its shareholding in downstream Africa to a new Joint Venture (JV).
The newly appointed Shell Oil Botswana Country Chairman, Willie Makgatlhe, says Botswana is expected to move into the JV this year and look forward to this change in shareholding, which is expected to bring in new investment into the country, creating new┬á opportunities for our staff and stakeholders.
Makgatlhe says despite the anticipated change in shareholding, the Shell brand and standards will remain, adding that the oil industry is specialized.┬á Currently, there is a shortage of people that are skilled in the oil industry.
“My immediate task is to prepare this transition to ensure the successful implementation of this business strategy whilst continuing to deliver business results in a safe and environmentally responsible way. Working with stakeholders remains key for our business and I will be working closely with these stakeholders to ensure that Shell goals are met,” explains Makgatlhe.
He says it is also important for him to ensure Shell’s priorities are to the greatest extent aligned to those of the country, adding that it is important that he directs his energy and the knowledge that he has gained during the 10 years outside Botswana for the benefit of his country and peoples.
Returning from Shell International BV based in The Hague, Netherlands, as Government Relations Adviser for Africa, he says his role was to support Shell’s business success, creating and delivering optimal business value and distinguishing Shell from competitors in view of key stakeholders.
“As an Adviser, I had to develop understanding of regional business, geopolitical trends, as well as an understanding of the key drivers for the Shell Group success,” says Makhatlhe.
According to Makgatlhe, he delivered his role by understanding and supporting government and other key stakeholders needs and policies and by ensuring that the company’s geographical perspective is balanced against business and strategies in line with the overall objectives of the Shell Group. He says in performing his tasks, he worked closely and through regular alignment with Country Chairman of the various countries.
Makgatlhe, a local oil industry expert, assumed the Chairmanship of Shell Oil Botswana on December 1, 2011.
“Whilst at the national airline, I attained my Master’s degree at Cranfield Institute of Technology in the United Kingdom. ┬áI then left the airline to join Shell Oil Botswana as the Marketing and Public Affairs Manager in Gaborone and was soon transferred to Cape Town to work for Shell Southern Africa in Strategy and Planning. It was after three years in Cape Town that I returned to re-join Air Botswana as the General Manager. The mandate from the Minister of Transport was to prepare the airline for privatization whilst continuing to ensure delivery efficient and safe services,” he explains.
Makgatlhe says that the Country Chairman’s role and that of Government Relations Adviser are quite similar, in the sense that it is about delivery of business results through understanding and supporting government needs and policies. ┬á
He says whilst the Country Chairman is for the specific country, the GR Adviser role covers all the countries in Africa. Over and above that, Makgatlhe says Shell has a Country Chairman for each major nation in which it operates, a role with specific cross-business responsibilities, including business and service delivery, corporate reputation, stakeholder management, talent pipeline development, health and safety coordination.
“I was offered this job when the previous Country Chairman left, and I accepted the job without any hesitation. I have worked in foreign countries for 10 year; it was time to return home and to serve my country,” he states.
He says there are many challenges around the oil industry, spanning from sustainability of production, high energy demand, alternative energy sources and high prices. He observed that locally, there have been challenges around product shortages during peak periods, which has been created mainly by refining capacity constraints from the main sources of product. He says alternative sources are being investigated and it is anticipated that permanent solutions would be found soon.
“Investment in additional capacity to cater for these eventualities is necessary. This is a priority for government and us,” says Makgatlhe.
Makgatlhe takes over from another local, Boitumelo Sekwababe, who left Shell at the end October 2011, after 23 years with the company, 10 years as the Country Chairman.
Currently, Sekwababe is doing work in South Africa within the energy industry after climbing to the highest position at Shell Botswana and taking Shell to number one company in fuel industry in Botswana.