Yarona FM station Manager, Dumi Lopang, has reacted swiftly to quell sentiments that the three private radio stations that are due to broadcast nationally in a few months are bound to fail due to lack of business as most of the enterprises in the northern parts of Botswana are docile and not really clued up on the importance of advertising.
These sentiments were raised by some observers in Francistown who said that the business community in the northern parts of Botswana was not yet mature and profitable enough to accommodate the high costs of advertising. They said that most of the businesses that exist in areas like Mahalapye, Palapye, Francistown and Maun are small micro and medium enterprises whose limited budgets are not enough to accommodate advertising costs.
“The market is already saturated by the numerous newspapers and RB2 such that the region cannot accommodate 3 more competitors,” they said, adding that even RB2 is finding it difficult to secure adverts in the north as they hardly ever broadcast them. Efforts to get a comment from the RB2 management were unsuccessful as the Director was said to be in Kasane.
Another argument that has been brought forward is that the headquarters of almost all of the big corporations like banks and parastatals are in Gaborone and most of the decisions are centralized such that decisions on advertising are made in Gaborone and not in Francistown.
But Lopang does not share the same sentiments. Speaking to The Sunday Standard on Friday, Lopang said that radio is bound to succeed because its advertising rates are much lower than those of other advertising media, like newspapers and television, such that they will be better placed to attract the SMMEs that are prevalent in northern Botswana.
Lopang added that Yarona FM will endeavor to create advertising rates that are tailor made to suit the needs and budgets of SMMEs.
“Radio is the ideal model of advertising for small businesses as we have a wider range of options than print media, especially in terms of offering outside broadcasts, and in-store promotions,” he said.
Asked if the revenue generated from advertising sales would be able to offset the cost implications of broadcasting nationally Lopang said that they have decided to cut costs by sharing the broadcasting infrastructure with the two other private radio stations, Gabz FM and Duma FM.
“We are also waiting for proposals from two potential technical partners after which we will be able to ascertain the exact cost implications of broadcasting nationally,” he said.
Eileen Van de Sar, of the Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower, welcomed the development saying that it would augur well for business in northern Botswana. She dismissed the thinking that the radio stations will not be able to generate enough revenue saying that there is an abundance of hugely profitable businesses from Mahalapye to Kasane that will take advantage of the low rates of radio advertising.
“The introduction of other players in the market will ensure that advertising rates remain reasonable as there will now be competition among the advertisers,” she said.
Batshani Mapaphi, a local businessman, challenged the radio stations to embark on a public education campaign to sensitize the business community on the advantages of advertising and also to market their products.
“Some of us are not even aware of these developments, and the concerned people should come to us and advertise themselves,” he said.
Mpaphi also welcomed the announcement by Lopang that they will introduce reduced rates that are tailor made for SMMEs, cautioning that high prices might deter them from advertising.