As one of the key lessons brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, buying local products is ‘expected’ to be the new normal. Cement manufacturing giant PPC Botswana, looks to adopt its ‘Buy Botswana’ intonation with the aim of creating a platform of economic turnaround based on realignment of consumption patterns with the economy’s productive capabilities.
The government has since allowed a restart of operations after a two months shutdown to ensure a smooth transition in compliance with the health protocol of social distancing. Even so, the man at the helm of the Botswana PPC unit, Tuelo Botlhole said, operations will not be the same on the business side of things as most of the stakeholders are already struggling. Nonetheless, PPC Botswana promises to continue engaging with more of these stakeholders on the road to economic recovery.
“Cement consumption is usually an indicator of the country’s economic growth. If the restart of operations is accompanied by a high demand it will bring production output to previous projections before lockdown and this will greatly benefit our local suppliers as we will be engaging them in the different stages of production,” he added.
According to Botlhole, ‘buy Botswana’ will be the route that PPC Botswana has decided to take post COVID- 19.
“During perilous times like these revenues will fall, most companies would react with a knee jerk reaction of cutting costs and scaling down on expenses. As reported by government the economy will shrink by 13percent and government will reprioritize projects. As much as the economy is driven by market forces, there is need to protect our own. The only way to achieve that is to reduce the import bill and utilize local suppliers,” explained Botlhole.
Asked further on the productions’ implications brought about by Covid-19 two months lockdown, Botlhole could not however disclose the quantitative figures with Sunday Standard citing confidentiality, but PPC Botswana like many other operations was not immune to Covid-19 harm.
Since resuming operations, he however told this publication that the uptake has been good. As the government slowly opened up the economy in phases, Botlhole said at PPC they have also been able to gradually open their operations where they started with 30 percent of staff, to 50, 75 and to now 100 percent full capacity respectively. Regarding the possible layoffs of employees in the near-medium future, he added that, “the situation is still very fluid, therefore difficult to tell whether it will reach to that point or not. We however believe that our workforce is an important assert to us.”
Over the years PPC Botswana has been working closely with local suppliers from truckers and contractors, to other SMEs, who have all been recently affected by the COVID- 19 pandemic as business operations were temporarily stopped. With that, the company is looking forward to continue working with local suppliers post COVID- 19, despite business operations starting on a low note.
The development and empowerment of Botswana communities, and local manufacturing empowerment for economic participation is part of PPC Botswana local development strategies. Some of these initiatives include amongst others- local brickmaking workshops, local SME support and development.