Wheat and maize milling company Bokomo Botswana aims to invest 40 million Pula in a plant to produce popular Simba Snacks Nik Naks. This follows government’s restriction of importation of maize extruded snacks last year to encourage local production.
Bokomo has for the meantime been acquiring permits to import the products which they supply locally, and now looking ahead see an opportunity in investing in production locally. Bokomo Botswana CEO Werner de Beer said they would be getting into a board meeting this Thursday to fine tune their ambitions and determine plans for undertaking this new venture. He however sees an opportunity to supply beyond the boarders of Botswana, though for what he calls a risky large investment.
“It is a huge investment for Nik Naks chippies, so careful consideration has to go into it. The Botswana market alone won’t be enough for this massive investment, so we are also looking to export,” noted De Beer.
De Beer’s reservations lie in the uncertainty surrounding the Southern African Development Community (SADC) market. He fears other countries could possibly follow Botswana’s lead of closing boarders for maize snacks imports.
“If one country in SACU or SADC closed its boarders for importation, the other governments could reciprocate,” the Bokomo CEO noted. “Now we undertake this massive capital investment, and the next thing we have Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and other countries closing their boarders for our snacks to be exported. It’s a big gamble,” continued De Beer.
However, Bokomo also sees a great opportunity for employment creation through this new undertaking. De Beer also believes there are a lot of skills to be transferred to the local market, once production is in full swing.
Recently government through Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Mmusi Kgafela announced that 40 million Pula was being raised by private sector for local production of maize snacks since the importation restrictions. Meanwhile Acting Director Industrial Affairs in the ministry Ruth Baoki said they are seeing other new entrants in the market looking to invest in this opportunity, noting two other companies that ministry is currently in discussions with.
“These companies should be in production before the end of the year, in fact, we anticipate one of them to be already in production by June, “ Baoki revealed. She further noted that interest is growing within private sector to invest in production of maize extruded snacks, especially from those companies which were supplying the Botswana market heavily, and now want to have set ups locally. She shared there’s about 25 million Pula more among other investors geared towards the same.