Wholesale and retail sector dominates economy

Statistics Botswana building PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Statistics Botswana building PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

The wholesale and retail trade sector has proven to be the largest in the country in terms of the number of existing businesses.

According to Statistics Botswana (SB), the sector recorded a total of 6,787 establishments during the first phase of the Census of Enterprises and Establishments (CEE) conducted in 2016-2017. This represented 36.6% of the total 18,552 businesses enumerated in that period.

The sector was followed by ‘other service’ industry with 10.7% or 1,994 establishments.  Other service activities include activities of membership organisations such as religious and political organisations.

Accommodation and food services came third with 1,819 establishments, representing 9.8% while manufacturing came fourth with 1,690 establishments or 9.1%.


The largest sub-industry in manufacturing in terms of the number of establishments was the manufacture of food products at 21.8%.

Included in this group are activities such as processing and preserving of meat, manufacture of bakery products, manufacture of dairy products, as well as repair of computers and personal and household goods and other personal service activities such as hairdressing, funeral activities and dry cleaning.

The census revealed that 9,289 or 50.1% of establishments were found in cities and towns. Gaborone constituted the most, about 66% of the establishments found in cities and towns followed by Francistown with 18.7%.

Sowa Town was the least with 0.3%. Other districts constituted 49.9% of the total establishments. At district level, Central District was the major contributor at 33.3%, followed by Kweneng District at 20.5% while Ngamiland District came third at 14.3%.

Private limited company was reported to be the most common form of legal status, constituting 48.2%. Sole proprietor followed this at 21.7%.

Most establishments, 73% reported as single units. A single unit is an independent business that does not have branches or is not associated with any other business.

Enterprises with branches came second at 19%, followed by those reported as head office at six percent while subsidiaries came last at one percent.

Most of the establishments, about 59.6% indicated they were private limited companies.

A private limited company is a privately owned business entity, in which owner liability is limited to their shares, the business is limited to having 50 or fewer shareholders, and shares are prohibited from being publicly traded.

This was followed by sole proprietor at 26.9%, which are companies where an individual holds 100% shares and controls all the business operations. About 92% of establishments reported 29 or fewer employees, of which 50.5% had four or less employees.

Editor's Comment
A Call For Government To Save Jobs

The minister further shared that from the 320 businesses that notified the Commissioner of Labour about their plans to retrench, 20 were acceded to, which resulted in 204 workers being retrenched during April 2020 and July 2021.The retrenchments were carried out while the SoE was in place, meaning the companies that succeeded must have had solid reasons, despite the strict SOE regulations imposed on businesses to not retrench. We are left with...

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