Government has banned the importation of less than 100 kg of packaged salt in a move aimed at stimulating domestic production and in turn creating employment.
In an interview with BusinessWeek, the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Trade and Industry, Peggy Serame said that they have imposed restrictions on the import of pre-packed salt through the Control of Goods, Prices and other Charges Act and Trade Act.
“Effective 1st June this year, there will be no importation of salt in quantities of 500grams (g) and 1 kilogram (kg).
“We will only allow for salt importation in minimum quantities of 100 kg.” She said, adding that the implementation of these guidelines would promote industrial development, broaden the sector and product base in the country.
The decision was taken in consideration of the fact that the raw material is available locally and the need to develop the value chain of the specific sector. Salt has, therefore, been identified as a commodity for value addition locally rather than export it in its raw form since the Sua pan has the largest deposits of Soda Ash and salt in Southern Africa.
“There are local companies which are engaged in the packaging of both fine and coarse salt, but operating below capacity and this instrument will encourage them to expand production and be able to increase their market share both locally and externally,” she noted.
According to Serame, the ministry has been in constant consultations with four major stakeholders in the salt industry. The companies have been operating for years and exporting to the South African Development Community (SADC) region.
Some of these companies are ISO 9000 certified and have invested substantial resources in machinery and technology.
“The ministry is currently engaging with these companies to appreciate their expansion plans and render advice on how they can improve capacities.
“This will have a positive impact on the growth of the salt industry and other downstream activities. Botswana has a market access with other trading partners globally and this industry could benefit from such opportunities,” she said.
The ministry envisaged that the existing companies would expand, further create start-ups, joint ventures and a potential for foreign direct investment.
At Sua pans, Botswana Ash (Botash) produces over 650,000 tonnes of salt per year.
Botash is an equally owned joint venture between the Botswana government and managing partner Chlor Alkali Holdings (CAH) Group of South Africa.