Botswana Development Corporation, a government investment arm, has reiterated its commitment to help develop a viable, competitive and profitable manufacturing industry in the country.

This is the message which has come out clearly from BDC Managing Director, Cross Kgosidiile, when officiating at the ground breaking ceremony of Oxygen Gas, a gas production company in Selebi Phikwe. BDC, which is better known for investing in pioneering and high capital projects, will construct the required specialised warehouses and ancillary buildings at an estimated cost of P42,6 million. BDC’s primary mandate is to drive the Industrialisation of the country by providing financial assistance to investors with commercially viable projects.

The entity provides both debt and equity financing to commercially viable projects that perform pioneer new industries, unlock value in existing industries, stimulate private sector growth and foster linkages with the local and foreign investors, drive diversification and exports as well as create significant employment.

“BDC remains fully committed to fundamentally contributing to the development of a viable, competitive and profitable manufacturing industry. Through Oxygen Gas (Pty) Ltd, BDC will be fulfilling its mandate of Promoting Citizen Economic Empowerment; Creating sustainable economic diversification; Promoting a self-sufficient supply of medical gas, which is key to saving the Botswana population from Covid-19; Creating jobs for Batswana; Promoting real growth of the economy; and assisting in placing the private industry in the forefront of economic development,” said Kgosidiile.

Oxygas is a 100% citizen-owned company that has been set up to manufacture medical and industrial gas and is one of the trailblazers in this field. According to a statement, Citizen Entreprenuerial Development Agency (CEDA) will finance the purchase of the plant, specialised equipment, and initial working capital. The project is of utmost importance to the country and the SPEDU region as it strives to bring diversity into the economy and manufacturing sector, achieve import substitution, contribute to the economic resuscitation efforts for Selibe Phikwe and create much-needed employment for Batswana. It is anticipated that the project will create 230 jobs at full operation, with 200 jobs being created during the construction phase.

Meanwhile, health minister, Dr Edwin Dikoloti remarked that the project is a demonstration of the Government’s dedication to the implementation and achievement of the 2020/21 – 2022/23 Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP) and the Reset Agenda championed by President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi. According to the minister, through Oxygas, "Botswana would be able to meet the national demand, significantly reduce its current dependence on imported medical and industrial gases and increase export potential. When achieved these would contribute to the accomplishment of strategic goals in self-sufficiency and reduction of the import bill as well as job creation." Shortage of medical gases, particularly oxygen, during the Covid-19 pandemic proved to be a threat to the survival of Batswana as a people.