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Air and rail could soon be privatized

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has prepared a potentially game-changing draft for an Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan.

Among other changes, the draft proposes bringing in strategic partners to run Air Botswana and Botswana Railways (BR).

The recovery plan, which is being prepared in collaboration with entities such as Bank of Botswana, says certain Government-owned organizations including BR and the national airliner, should be considered for privatization.

“Both have struggled to identify sustainable business models. In particular, there is an opportunity to bring in strategic Equity Partner to invest in and manage Air Botswana,” notes the draft plan.

Private parts
GOING PRIVATE? Air Botswana

The two biggest anticipated benefits from the exercise are the improvement of a critical service and reduction of spending to support Air Botswana.

The economic recovery plan also suggests there is a need for an improved domestic schedule as well as opening up local airspace beyond the national airliner.

“There are a number of ‘thin’ routes that require aircraft smaller than those operated by Air Botswana,” observed the finance ministry.

The recovery plan suggests that consideration of applications to provide scheduled air services on domestic routes should be expedited by the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) and approval should not be dependent upon Air Botswana’s agreement.

Efforts have been made to privatize the national airline in the past but such attempts have always fallen by the wayside.

The last privatization bid involved Wilderness Safaris, who pulled out of the deal at the last minute following a public backlash as the company was supposedly linked to the then President, Ian Khama.

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