Botswana carves export niche with Sengaparile, Kalahari Truffle

Kenewendo says the government is laying the platform for exporters
Kenewendo says the government is laying the platform for exporters

The global demand for uniquely Botswana products, Sengaparile and the Kalahari Truffle, is growing, helping the country in its efforts to both diversity exports and to empower Batswana.

Investment, Trade and Industry minister, Bogolo Kenewendo said government would provide all the support required to boost the diversification of exports, particularly in the area of products that can be marketed as heritage exports such as Sengaparile and the Kalahari Truffle.

Addressing the Exporters Forum in Gaborone recently, Kenewendo said there was room for improvement in export diversification, which would support the creation of more local jobs.

“Indigenous products like the Devils Claw (Sengaparile) and the Kalahari Truffle are top exports to Europe and we have discovered that there is very high demand internationally,” she said.

“We have been requested to facilitate that sector in order for it to tap further into the European market.” Kenewendo said the country had much potential for more exports, adding onto the existing products that include animal medicine, pipes, health-related consumables like syringes and towels.

While figures for non-mining merchandise exports are difficult to collate, companies assisted by the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre exported P2.4 billion worth of goods in the financial year ended March 31, 2018 against a target of P2.7 billion. Products exported included salt and salt products, meat products, textiles, automobile batteries, clay bricks, electrical cables and furniture. Markets include the SADC region, Senegal, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Norway and the European Union.   Kenewendo said government would also play its party by finalising trade arrangements with external markets to support local exporters.

She said Botswana had recently signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and had also recently kick started a joint commission with the European Union. Negotiations are ongoing with the United Kingdom to ensure continued access to that market when Brexit takes place.

“We are looking for firms that are willing to be competitive and efficient.

“We want those that really have the strength to withstand the challenges in the international market particularly in Africa where there are lot of opportunities opening up.

“The agenda is to move forward from the country’s traditional exports of diamonds and beef,” she said.

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