[Page-number of print ed.: 41]

Appropriate Technology Transfer for Botswana - An Overview
Muthu Chandrasekar


A perspective on policies, programmes, problems and prospects relevant to the technology transfer in the Republic of Botswana is presented in this paper. An attempt is made to identify the technological needs and highlight the „optimal technology mix" to achieve economic, social and environmental objectives, in relation to the resources of Botswana.


The Government of Botswana recognises the role of technological support to SMMEs in diversifying the economy and improving productivity. National Development Plan (NDP 8) has „Sustainable Economic Diversification" as the principal objective. Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) are considered as „growth engines" to realise the above objective which aims to progress national development. SMMEs create jobs, generate wealth and stimulate entrepreneurship. To realise their vast potential, SMMEs need an enabling favourable supportive environment (free of hassles) so that they prosper and expand. In light of this fact, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, the Honourable K. G. Kgoroba, established, in May 1997, a private-sector led Task Force, to address comprehensively SMME issues and to develop a policy.

[Page-number of print ed.: 42]

This Task Force established three sub committees:

  1. Finance and Opportunities
  2. Entrepreneurship Development and Training
  3. Policy and Legal Framework.

Each of the sub committees co-opted additional members from relevant Government Ministries, parastatals, SMME support institutions, NGOs and the private sector.

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation supported the work of the Task Force. The Task Force requested and received submissions from members of the public and interested organisations. Local consultations were held with business owners in Francistown, Gaborone, Kasane, Kanye, Masunga, Maun, Molepolole, Palapye, Selebi-Phikwe and Serowe. Members of Parliament were also consulted and invited to make submissions to the Task Force. Representatives from the Task Force and its sub committees visited relevant SMME support institutions in India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Zimbabwe.

Based on this task force report and recommendations, the Government of Botswana is in the process of formulating a policy on SMMEs for Botswana.

Definition and characteristics of SMMEs

Because of the enormous diversity of scale (size) and sophistication of operations, the definitions of SMME are not intended to be precise/hard and fast and should be interpreted flexibly, considering the broad characteristics. The purpose of these definitions is to assist in the identification of broad target groups for particular policy measures. Approximately 56 300 SMMEs currently function in Botswana.

Micro enterprises/informal sector/tiny sector

Approximately 50 000 in number.

[Page-number of print ed.: 43]

75% women-owned


70% located in rural areas, 30% in urban areas.


65% are involved in trading, 25% in manufacturing (including maintenance and repair workshops), 10% in service and miscellaneous.

Small enterprises

Approximately 6 000.


20% rural, 80% located in urban areas.


40% service sector
20% manufacturing-
16% retailing
10% transport/distribution
8% agriculture
6% construction, miscellaneous.

Medium-sized enterprises

Approximately 300.

Majority in manufacturing, lesser number in retailing, wholesaling and construction.

Government policies and programmes for SMME

Government had set up in 1974, Botswana Enterprise Development Unit (BEDU). This was followed by the Rural Industrial Office Cadre Programme and the Business Advisory Services.

In 1978:

Local Preference Scheme, modified in 1997 as Local Procurement Programme (LPP).

In 1982:

Financial Assistance Policy (FAP) was introduced.

In Mid

Reserved Activities Policy.

[Page-number of print ed.: 44]

In 1987:

Integrated Field Services (IFS).

While the above four initiatives support SMMEs, other support-measures listed below are also significant:

  1. Training programmes of the Ministry of Education (Botswana Training Authority)
  2. Establishment of institutions like:
    1. Industries Promotion Company (RIPCO)
    2. Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC) - a subsidiary of RIPCO
    3. Botswana Technology Centre (BTC)
    4. Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA)
    5. Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC)
    6. Botswana Development Corporation (BDC)
    7. Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (TIPA)

Changing scenario

The following developments have significant impact on the SMME sector in Botswana:

  1. Globalisation.
  2. Prominence of services.
  3. Knowledge-intensity or advent of advanced technologies.
  4. Buyer’s market (Niche market).
  5. Quality systems (ISO 9000 series of standards).
  6. Environmental concerns (ISO 14 000).

Guiding principles for Botswana's policy (identified by SMME Task Force)

  • To promote an enabling environment within which SMMEs will flourish and grow.
  • Policy to base upon an integrated approach to SMME development, which ensures cohesion and linkages between

    [Page-number of print ed.: 45]

    the various forms of support available.

  • To develop an institutional framework for effective implementation.
  • To the extent possible, the effectiveness of the policy and its implementation should be measurable against specific criteria.
  • The policy should not encourage dependency on Government.

Objectives of SMME policy (identified by SMME Task Force)

  1. To promote citizen entrepreneurship and empowerment, and thereby to increase the proportion of economic activity under the control of citizens.
  2. To promote economic diversification.
  3. To promote exports.
  4. To encourage the development of a competitive and sustainable SMME community.
  5. To create sustainable employment opportunities.
  6. To promote the development of vertical integration and horizontal linkages between SMMEs and primary industries.
  7. To improve efficiency in the delivery of services to business.

Technology support for SMMEs

The SMME Task Force pointed out that „the technological needs of SMMEs are extremely diverse, reflecting the wide range of products and services that are provided by these enterprises and the comparative level of sophistication of the business operation. At one end of the spectrum, there are some „high tech" small businesses, which need the most modern technology in order to compete effectively in manufacturing or providing service. In contrast to these businesses are the micro and small enterprises, which rely upon labour-intensive and low-skill operations, supported by „appropriate technology".

The Task Force suggested to Government to give priority in technical support to the latter than the former, on the basis of their potential for employment creation.

[Page-number of print ed.: 46]

The Government of Botswana already funds the activities of several parastatal and government institutions which provide technological support for SMMEs, such as Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC), the Food Technology Research Services, the Botswana Technology Centre (BTC), the Botswana College of Agriculture and Integrated Field Services (IFS). The Task Force indicated that there is a need for these institutions to upgrade their marketing and outreach, so that SMMEs are made more aware of the support available.

The Task Force had further recommended that parastatal and government institutions responsible for providing technological support for SMMEs should improve the means by which they disseminate information and advice. In particular, a more proactive approach to marketing their services is required.

The Government of Botswana endeavours to augment the capacity and capability of these institutions. Establishing regional offices of RIPCO in Gantsi, Kasane and Tsabong is envisaged.

Core policy strategies

In order to build science and technology capacities in the priority areas of the economic and service sectors, the Government of Botswana has the following strategic approach with emphasis on rural areas:

  1. Identify, develop, adapt and apply appropriate technologies for small, medium and large scale processing and manufacturing industry.
  2. Promote and develop traditional technologies and encourage their wider diffusion and application.
  3. Develop human resources to implement the policy and its programme of activities.
  4. Develop basic infrastructure and establish science and technology facilities in rural and urban areas.
  5. Promote and support development, transfer, adaptation, dissemination and diffusion of science and technology.

    [Page-number of print ed.: 47]

  6. Develop and utilise information, monitoring and evaluation system for science and technology.
  7. Identify, evaluate, promote and facilitate areas of comparative advantage for technology.
  8. Promote private sector participation and financing of science and technology activities and encourage the private sector to promote, develop and commercialise scientific and technological activities and results.
  9. Encourage and support non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community based organisations (CBOs).
  10. Promote and support national and international cooperation and collaboration in technology development and transfer.
  11. Introduce science and technology in all education programmes and ensure systematic institutionalisation of science and technology in the Botswana culture and society.
  12. Build the capacity to search, select, negotiate, procure, exchange and introduce technologies suitable to socio-economic conditions of Botswana.
  13. Create centres of excellence and science parks including business incubators in strategic science and technology areas.
  14. Strengthen existing science and technology institutions and establish appropriate centres of excellence and support services in various districts of Botswana.

Selection of technology

Besides institutional facilities and policy measures, choosing appropriate technology is very important. Appropriate technology is the one most appropriate for a specific place, time, people (skill), material and money (extent of capital required).

The following broad criteria are worth exploring to identify, develop and/or transfer the appropriate technological choice:

  1. Products, product design and specifications. Aim to achieve development goals: significant wealth creation/value addition.

    [Page-number of print ed.: 48]

    Need-based technology

    Produce only what you can market

    Product should be related to local needs and purchasing power, focus on export market, import substitution.

    Develop unique selling proposition (USP).

    Develop value engineering

    Adaptations necessary to suit local conditions and circumstances

  2. Production should be geared to local resources and skills.

    Skill development to be accelerated

There is a widespread misconception that traditional skills and technology could provide an adequate basis for rural industrialisation, and that the introduction of improved alternative technologies would invariably create structural dislocation. In actuality, the fact remains that there is hardly any industry in which the traditional skills of the rural artisans have any major application or use.

The experience of industrialised nations such as Japan and the USA show that requisite skills can be imparted through practical training, provided that the industrial technologies sought to be promoted are appropriate to the absorptive capacities of those to be trained in them.

Since the products of rural industries must compete in the rural and urban markets with those of large industrial units using better technologies, the former must be cheap, cost-effective and of reasonably good quality to earn consumer acceptance. One of the reasons for the decay of traditional technologies has been the high cost and poor quality of their products.

Appropriate technology does not mean avoiding advanced technology. We cannot prefer primitive or discarded technologies, just because they are labour-intensive and provide more jobs. To be competitive

[Page-number of print ed.: 49]

and more productive advent of advanced technology is a must. It is essential to upgrade the technological base in general.

We need leaps, not just steps. We can’t settle for hurricane lamps where fluorescent lamps are the order of the day. Laser, optical fibres, CNC machines are all not out of range. We can't satisfy with a spoon where a shovel is required.

Upgrading technological capabilities will continue to remain as the cornerstone of our technology policy. Technological leadership is one of our cherished goals.

Some of the industrial sectors requiring advanced technology where there is a good scope for transfer of technology are enumerated in Annexure 3.

We need to develop and/or transfer not only just product technology but also process technology, inspection technology

Technology pertaining to processes like welding, electroplating, engraving, injection moulding, metal cutting and metal forming, heat-treatment, need to be developed and/or transferred. Trades like printed circuit board assembly, electric motor rewinding, unconventional machining methods, etc., need to be developed. Non-destructive testing methods need to be popularised and familiarised. Continuous upgrading of skills and technology is vital for national development.

Technology transfer

An integrated approach is required to transfer new appropriate technologies and to upgrade existing technologies:

  1. Identification of technological needs.
  2. Technology develop/acquire (Analogous to make or buy decision).
  3. Advertise/publicise/popularise.
  4. Selection.
  5. Support to start and sustain (commercialise/ productionise).

[Page-number of print ed.: 50]

Constraints or opportunities

Technology transfer has to support and upgrade existing technologies or replace it by suitable alternatives.

While the focus of technology transfer delivery system would be technological, it would have to comprehend the entire spectrum of services needed by the rural industries, which would include the supply of raw materials and equipment, mobilisation of financial assistance, provision of back-up services including spare parts and marketing support.

An important function of the technology transfer would also be the establishment of repair and maintenance services, which in themselves could be starting points for new technology transfer and would also act as catalysts for modernisation in the design, standardisation and production of spares for the acquired appropriate industrial technology.

Information constraints

One of the first constraints faced by the rural manufacturers is poor communication of technology information. Within the immediate locality, the rural manufacturer may be well aware of the technology requirements for established products, but the possibilities of expansion or diversification are unknown. Even if the manufacturer is aware of technology opportunities, it may still be difficult to obtain or develop new product designs.

Constraints with regard to skills

Even where information on technology is available, lack of relevant skills, coupled with low level of education particularly among rural entrepreneurs, makes diversification difficult to achieve with unfamiliar or new technology. This point is already explained in this paper.

[Page-number of print ed.: 51]

Constraints relating to infrastructural services

Infrastructure development needs to be a step ahead of the industrial development. It should be a forerunner before technology transfer.

For example, lack of laboratory testing equipment, is a constraint experienced by many. Setting up of common testing facilities, common service centres could be a possible solution to such problems. An effective way of assisting small rural industries in places where there are clusters of similar industries is the creation of common marketing services and outlets.

Technology transfer imperatives - points to ponder

The following factors need assessment and due consideration:

Prior to technology development:

  • Extent of demand of technology.
  • Likely impact of technology.
  • Priorities.

During various stages of technology development:

Consumer interests:

  • Safety
  • Maintainability/serviceability
  • Ease of operation
  • Quality and reliability
  • Environmental aspects

Manufacturability (product):

  • Design for manufacture
  • Ease of manufacture
  • Value Engineering
  • Availability of raw materials
  • Level of expertise.

Commercial and User Information/Marketing Aspects:

[Page-number of print ed.: 52]

  • Changes in the market
  • Targeting/segmenting
  • Competition
  • Cost and time

Technology promotion

Advertising/Publicising/Popularising Technologies

  1. Prototype/pilot building
  2. Technology patenting
  3. Advertising by media, exhibition, public presentations, etc., to inform the technology transfer opportunity
  4. Scout for potential technology users.
  5. Evaluate their capabilities.
  6. Pre-production processes:
    • trial run
    • ensure proper workmanship, functional adequacy
  7. Training
  8. Evaluation
  9. Impact assessment surveys. Debug and refine the technology and it should be monitored by sample tests, field reviews, customer survey, etc.


Instead of proliferation of new institutions, existing institutions like BTC, RIIC, and RIPCO are to be strengthened and supported. Attracting more foreign investment in various areas, particularly from developed nations, will significantly induct new technology, which will undoubtedly benefit Botswana. Institutional tie-ups will help to accelerate the transfer of technology relevant to Botswana. The assistance of international agencies like UNIDO, UNESCO, USAID, etc., should be solicited in the endeavour of technology transfer.

[Page-number of print ed.: 53]


Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises Task Force Report, April 1998, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Republic of Botswana

[Page-number of print ed.: 54]

Annexure 1




Annual sales
Turnover (in Pula)

No. of paid employees


<= 60.000

<=6 (including owner)


60 000 <*<=

(1.5 million)



1.500.000 <*<

(8 million)


[Page-number of print ed.: 55]

Annexure 2




Solar Rechargeable Hearing Aid
(Solar Aid)

Camphill Community Trust (Motse wa Badiri)
P.O. Box 142, Otse
Tel: 337272 Fax: 337276
Contact: Mr. K. Thomson

Mark 6 PV Controller

Madiba Electrical Brigade
Private Bag 12, Mahalapye
Tel:410384 Fax: 410383
Contact: Mr. J. Ndaba

Mark 7 PV Controller

Currently Supplied by:
Botswana Technology Centre
Private Bag 0082, Gaborone
Tel: 314161 Fax: 374677
Contact: Mr. R. Ontiretse

Low Voltage Fluorescent Lamp
(Masa DC 12)

Anything Solar (Pty) Ltd
P.O. Box 402, Gaborone
Tel: 305272 Fax: 374912
Contact: Mrs. P. Sebonego

Borehole Water Level Sensor

KiTEK Manufacturing (pty) Ltd
P.O. Box 40335, Gaborone
Tel: 313665 Fax: 353868
Contact: Mr. J. Case

[Page-number of print ed.: 56]

Other Projects Undertaken by BTC

Ferrocement Rainwater Tanks - for rainwater harvesting

Kgalagadi Sand Block

Passive Solar Designs at Gaborone West Staff Houses

Waste Water Treatment and Recycling

Architectural Design of Kagisong Conference Centre in Mogoditshane

Monitoring of Solar Water Heaters

PV Street Lights at Manyana

PV Water Pumping System at Kolobeng Horticultural Project

PV Power Station at Motsegaletau

[Page-number of print ed.: 57]

Annexure 3


  1. Technology for eco-friendly packaging, packaging waste management (Reuse and recycling of paper, cans, etc).
  2. Silica based industries
    - tube and glass making
    - insulation glass fibre making plant
    - coated abrasives like grinding wheels
  3. Copper covered steel wire plant (Steel wire closely plated with uniform layer of pure copper)
  4. Can making using tin plate as the raw material
  5. Electro plating
  6. Welding electrode making
  7. PVC pipe making plant
  8. Ceramic rod for carbon film resistor
  9. Ceramic capacitors
  10. Leather production
  11. Footwear technology
  12. Pharmaceuticals
  13. Plastics
  14. LPG stoves
  15. Non-stick cookware
  16. Cables, wires, fittings
  17. Pen-torch cells, batteries
  18. Confectionery
  19. Shaving products - blade, razor
  20. Watch straps
  21. Motor industry - Auto electricals, wire-harness manufacture filters, tyre retreating
  22. Paint technology
  23. Mining explosives
  24. Textiles
  25. Detergent, soaps
  26. Shampoo
  27. Transformers
  28. Adhesive/Glue making

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Dezember 1999

Previous Page TOC Next Page