Thursday, February 9, 2023

PPC Cement, Stanchart welcomes ‘new’ competition

As the local economy undergoes a churn, with new players mounting a challenge to traditional market leaders in various industries, corporate leaders in those sectors have said that new competition is a “good thing” for consumers as it creates diversity.

One such executive is PPC Cement Botswana’s Head of Business Unit Tuelo Botlhole who says his company welcomes new players in the cement manufacturing industry. Botlhole however cautions that new players should adhere to international safety requirements as well as good quality products.

“We welcome new players in the market. It is not just good for the customers but also for the entire economy as it can result in skills transfer and efficient production.”, said Botlhole at a recent media tour of PPC Cement Botswana’s plant in the capital Gaborone. The plant currently employs 65 people directly and unspecified number through the logistics industry.

Botlhole says as new players come on board, PPC Botswana is ready and prepared to share skills and knowledge with new entrants given that, “There is urgent need to comply in terms of quality and safety”.

Botlhole also shared with journalists the difficulties that local cement producers such as PPC Botswana are facing due to what he called ‘product dumping’ that is currently taking place in the country.

“Cement product dumping has been a concerning problem in our industry. As cement industry players, we have been concerned by the amount of cement dumping by regional and international industry players who do not add value to the local economy, through skills development CSI, local value chains and employment. This has even contributed to some industry players losing business and shutting down operations leading to mass unemployment which is also a burden to the economy”, said Botlhole.

The PPC Botswana executive also admitted that his company recorded a decline in market share in Botswana after a penetration by some foreign cement manufacturers.

“The argument has always been that local cement manufacturers play a vital role in the local economy by creating employment and the usage of local raw materials. Whereas on the other hand, regional and international cement manufacturers dump their cement products in local retail outlets and sell them at a very low price. Which is unfair competition as they do not even create value in the local economy”, said Botlhole.

PPC Botswana has played a huge role in the infrastructure development of Botswana over the past 27 years of existence in the country with its product used in the construction process of several iconic structures such as the Mohembo Bridge, Obed Itani Chilume Stadium, Dikgatlhong Dam and part of the A1 Highway near Boatle.

Banking on competition…

Another executive who banks on competition for happy customers is top banker – Mpho Masupe of Standard Chartered Bank Botswana. Masupe last week hosted journalists for the banker’s unaudited financial results for period ended 30th June 2022 in the capital Gaborone.

The Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) quoted banker delivered a strong set of results for the first half of the year in what they call a “complex operating environment”.

But with new competition coming in the form of BBS Limited, a semi-commercial banker that has since started the process of going fully commercial, Masupe says their arrival is a welcome development.

“As a bank we welcome new competition. We actually do not see them as competition, we see them as providing for Batswana to ensure that there is a lot more choice. We love it when there are more banks because we do quite a lot of business with banks, so it is an enlargement of our work”, said Masupe.

Apart from the arrival of BBS Limited, the banking sector is expected to experience stiff competition ushered by the new interest rates regime which was first announced by the central bank in April 2022. Under the new regime, commercial bankers like Stanchart will be free to set own competitive prime rates benchmarking on the Bank of Botswana’s Monetary Policy Rate (MoPR) which is revised every two and half months by the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee.

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