Botswana - Country Commercial Guide
Distribution & Sales Channels

Discusses distribution network from how products enter to final destination, including reliability of distribution systems, distribution centers, ports, etc.

Last published date: 2022-08-02

Botswana is a landlocked country at the center of the Trans-Kalahari Corridor which connects Johannesburg through Botswana to the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia.  Botswana is also part of the North-South Corridor which connects the port of Durban through Botswana to Zambia and Tanzania.  The major transport corridor is the North-South railway to and from the port of Durban.  The GoB is working to develop Namibia’s Walvis Bay as an alternative port due to congestion and delays in Durban, although this is not currently a well-developed route.  In its bid to also improve regional integration and the ease of doing business, the GoB, in partnership with the Government of Zambia, constructed the Kazungula Bridge across the Zambezi River.  The multi-million-dollar Kazungula Bridge opened for use in May 2021 and is a new gateway to other SADC countries.  The bridge and its one-stop border post have eliminated congestion and improved efficiency; transit times have fallen from 36 hours to 2 hours.  Most goods enter Botswana through the capital city, Gaborone.  However, other points of commerce include Lobatse, Francistown, Maun, and Kasane/Kazungula.  Roads are typically good, although driving at night should be avoided due to danger posed by livestock or wildlife wandering onto the roads.

The vast majority of U.S. products sold in Botswana enter as re-exports from South Africa.  Many U.S. companies maintain regional distributorships in South Africa, which supply the rest of the SADC region.

Using an Agent or Distributor

U.S. companies looking for assistance in finding a Botswana agent or distributor are advised to contact Business Botswana and the American Business Council in Botswana (ABC).  Business Botswana has more than 2,000 member companies and is the largest private sector association in the country.  Its membership directory is not available online, but the Economic/Commercial Section of the U.S. Embassy can provide a hard copy (mailto: CommercialGabs@state.gov).  The American Business Council has about 50 members and represents private companies and individuals interested in doing business with the United States.  The ABC has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of  Trade and Industry to work together to foster an enabling environment for U.S. businesses in Botswana.

The U.S. Commercial Service’s International Partner Search program also provides partner search services, for a fee.  Partner search services for Botswana are available through the U.S. Embassy Botswana website (https://bw.usembassy.gov).

Establishing an Office

Companies interested in investing in Botswana should contact the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), the GoB agency charged with assisting foreign investors in setting up operations:

Botswana Investment and Trade Centre:

Tel: +267 363 3300 / +267 71319250

Email: mailto:enquiries@bitc.co.bw

Company formation and registration in Botswana is relatively straightforward and can be done online through Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA)’s Online Business Registration System (OBRS). 

All companies doing business in Botswana must register with the Registrar of Companies.  Registration typically takes 24 hours; it is common for an investor to engage a local attorney to assist.  A list of local attorneys who practice in this area can be obtained from the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section (https://bw.usembassy.gov).

Franchising

Although most franchises in Botswana are from South Africa, a few U.S. franchises operate in Botswana including Federal Express, Coca-Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Hilton, Marriott, Avis, RE/MAX realtors, and others.

Registering a franchise follows the same procedures as registering a company and must be done with the Registrar of Companies.  Depending on the type of business, the government may also require a license issued either by the city council or the Ministry of  Trade and Industry.

Direct Marketing

Direct Marketing is common and widely used by local companies.  It is considered to be the most effective form of marketing.  The most common forms of direct marketing in Botswana are text messaging, pamphlets and brochures (delivered by hand or mail), internet (through email and social media), radio and television promotions, and salesperson visits.

Joint Ventures/Licensing

Joint ventures between local and foreign partners are common and are encouraged, especially where the foreign partner brings production or design expertise and marketing ties.  Investors looking for partners can contact the U.S. Embassy or BITC.

Express Delivery

Express delivery of products is available and reliable throughout the country, delivering within 24 hours.  Most of the express companies operate internationally so it is easy to do business and interact with international companies.  Some of the express delivery companies operating are DHL, FedEx, Botswana Couriers & Logistics, Express Mail Service (Operated by Botswana Post), and Sprint Couriers.

Due Diligence

It is advisable for foreign companies to perform due diligence on their business partners or agents.  The U.S. Embassy provides partial International Company Profile (ICP) services.