Botswana: Textile Companies Bring Hope to Selebi Phikwe

Selebi Phikwe — Nitaz Pty Ltd is one of the textile industries that was not deterred by the collapse of BCL mine, which had been the backbone of Selebi Phikwe economy.

Despite the folding of the mine, which its ripple effects were felt by many Batswana, Nitaz Pty Ltd set base in Selebi Phikwe is providing much needed employment and injecting money in the local economy.

BCL was not only the economic mainstay of Selebi Phikwe town but provided employment at the mine and also brought opportunities for sectors such as the textile industry which indirectly benefited from the mine.

Just like other businesses in Selebi Phikwe, the textile industry was also severely affected when BCL mine shut down resulting in many textile industries closing down while some retrenched their staff.

However, the arrival of Nitaz Pty Ltd, which is one of the businesses facilitated by the Selebi Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU), is a welcome development for Selebi Phikwe community as it will make up for the lost jobs.

The company started operations two years ago and has leased one of the factory shells owned by Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) at Selebi Phikwe's Industrial site.

Its Finance Manager, Ms Chamati Lekwapa said the company started small but was growing in leaps and bounds. "We specialise in making protective clothing such as two-piece overalls, t-shirts, leggings and corporate wear," she told BOPA in an interview recently.

The P5.6m investment, is a citizen owned company which is in its early stages of producing garments.

Nitaz supplies local companies, individuals and is still trying to secure market outside the country. Ms Lekwapa said the company was still in talks with some companies in South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"The government is our main customer, we supply overalls to institutions such as Botswana Police Service and we also supplied masks and hats to Botswana Defence Force."

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, Nitaz supplied overalls to Durban Overalls in South Africa. With the introduction of investment incentives for SPEDU facilitated businesses, Ms Lekwapa said Nitaz would be able to double its production and increase its staff from the current 75 employees to 300 employees.

The incentives include among others five per cent corporate tax for the first five years, zero customs duty on imported raw materials as well as 30 per cent government off-take where the government will procure 30 per cent of goods from companies that invest in the SPEDU region provided their prices and standards were met.

"Even though the SPEDU incentives took some time to be implemented, we are happy that there is light at the end of the tunnel," quipped Ms Lekwapa.

She said the company had been issued with the tax incentive certificate and had started to benefit from the 30 per cent offtake incentive as well as the Economic Diversification Drive.

Ms Lekwapa commended the government for introducing the incentives as they would help attract more investors to the SPEDU region and help resuscitate the economy of Selebi Phikwe.

However she called on the government to protect the textile industry by banning the importation of school uniforms as local textile industries had the capacity to supply school uniform.

She said some corporate companies also bought staff uniform from South Africa, thus empowering businesses outside the country.

Meanwhile, another textile company that set up base in Selebi Phikwe is Other Options which is a wholly citizen owned company which manufactures garments.

The P4m project, also situated at Industrial site has a staff complement of 380.

The Company's Managing Director, Ms Jenamo Mudolo says the company set base in Selebi Phikwe to heed President Mokgweetsi Masisi's call to have companies investing in the SPEDU region.

The self-funded company started production three months ago and has been awarded the tender to make uniforms for Botswana Police Service.

The company also supplies local companies, government departments and individuals. "We are happy for the support we get from the government," she said.

Ms Mudolo urged the private sector to support the government's initiative to empower citizen owned companies.

Source : BOPA

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