Kefilwe Gabatingwe, who bought a solar panel, power converter, and haircut clips from Chinese stores to start a business, is seen at his hair salon in Francistown, Botswana, May 18, 2021 (Photo: Xinhua)
Lekang Botlhoko cuts a customer’s hair using a device purchased from a Chinese store in Francistown, Botswana, May 18, 2021 (Photo: Xinhua)
While Botswana’s diamond-driven economy has been hit hard since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, independent companies, which mainly rely on government tenders, have found the situation difficult and many of them are implementing cost-cutting measures in order to stay afloat. .
Small and medium-sized businesses in Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, and the second-largest city of Francistown, have resorted to installing solar panels obtained from nearby Chinese stores scattered throughout the country’s main cities.
Hairdressers and secretarial service providers have designed makeshift salons powered by solar panels in open spaces in order to continue earning a living after failing to pay rents and high electricity bills.
On April 1, Botswana Power Corporation, the country’s only electricity company, increased electricity tariffs by 3 percent, a move that resulted in electricity costs beyond the reach of many small business operators. .
“Electricity is now expensive in Botswana so I decided to buy a caravan and install a solar panel that is easily accessible in Chinese shops in the city,” said Itekeng Kenosi, a young man who runs a secretariat. in Francistown.
Kenosi said operating in a trailer is very cheap. Besides being inexpensive, Kenosi said he had the option of powering his photocopiers and binding machines using the solar system rather than renting office space.
Kefilwe Gabatingwe, 38, said he bought a solar panel, power converter and hair clips from Chinese stores to start a business. All his equipment cost him only 1,000 pula (about US $ 100), he said.
“My investment capital was very low because the device was brought to us by the Chinese,” Gabatingwe said, adding that he earns a monthly income of between 1,500 and 2,000 pula, which is equivalent to between 150 and 200 US dollars.
Gabatingwe, who remains in the village of Chadibe, about 70 km northwest of Francistown, said he managed to earn enough income to support his family of five.