The City of Francistown could soon be able to shake off its ‘Ghetto’ name through a facelift that will see it transform into a modern city aimed at making it the gateway to the rest of Africa.
According to Business Botswana Regional Manager-North, Kebaabetswe Bogatsu, Francistown is on the brink of realising its potential despite the recent closure of Tati Nickel Mine. Bogatsu envisages a Francistown whose economy is not heavily reliant on mining, but a city which was able to rebrand itself and explore other opportunities.
Speaking recently at the launch of The First Sun Executive Plus at Thapama Hotel, Bogatsu emphasised that despite the setbacks caused by the mine closure, Francistown is still a viable business destination.
“This city is still very much open for business. We just need to repackage ourselves and look at other industries that never existed in the city,” he said.
Mr Bogatsu said there is no difference between Francistown and Gaborone, and that there should be no reason for the northern city to lag behind in terms of development and business opportunities. Bogatsu urged entrepreneurs and potential investors to look beyond mining and think outside the box.
He said it makes no sense for the city to be struggling when its one of the first urban places in the country.
He said; “Francistown is one of the first mining towns in Southern Africa. There is a good case for cultural tourism, the city has a rich history that needs to be exploited.”
He commended First Sun Brokers for launching and reaching out to their stakeholders in Francistown. He also urged entrepreneurs to be bold and set up businesses in Francistown and be part of the inevitable transformation.
“There is so much opportunity for private education institutions. Be bold and set up your campuses here and decongest Gaborone,” he said.
He said educational institutions should be scrambling to get a piece of the second city and position themselves as the “Francistown dream is too close”.
He said Francistown is geographically located to be the gateway to Central Africa and the rest of the continent, which he said would be fully appreciated when Kazungula Bridge opens.
Bogatsu explained that the traffic will be diverted and goods all over Africa will pass through Francistown to access the bridge. He said the dream to transform the city would be further enhanced by the recent investment in the city’s road network. A couple of roads in Francistown are currently under construction, with most expected to open to the public around April.
Besides the Tonota/Francistown highway and Thapama interchange, construction of the Gerald link road will soon commence. The dual carriageway road starts from the roundabout circle in Gerald and goes through the airport and joins the A3 road to Maun at the four-way junction stop with new bridge road.
The BB Regional Manager also said there is an untapped opportunity in private health care.
“It is an opportunity that those with the means should be looking into. The recent groundbreaking ceremony of Academic Francistown Hospital is a good indicator that opportunities are abundant. With world-class health facilities in the city, we will be able to extend our services to countries like Zimbabwe. Our tourists in the Okavango will now be 45 minutes away from a state of the art health facility.” – Bogatsu.
Bogatsu further said Francistown would benefit from the Sowa Pan’s beneficiation drive. He said due to Francistown’s proximity to Sowa, it is best placed for any industries dealing with Soda Ash.
He urged the business community to set up business in Francistown and source their raw materials locally at very low prices because soda ash passes through Francistown, concluding;
“The Francistown dream is truly alive.”
Picture courtesy of: www.botswana.co.za