Read time: 3 minutes

Botswana turns to digital as it eyes AfCFTA market

The electronic system will expedite the processing of intra-African trade and commerce payments.
The electronic system will expedite the processing of intra-African trade and commerce payments.

Botswana Export Manufacturer Association (BEMA) is integrating its online store with the Pan-African Payment Settlement System (PAPSS) developed by AFREXIM Bank, to ease customer payments across Africa.

This, after Botswana became the 46th state to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which is expected to give companies on the continent access to a larger market of 1.3 billion people.

BEMA store is an online platform created to give Botswana business access to markets, as the country seeks to increase its exports. 

PAPSS is a centralised payment and settlement infrastructure for intra-African trade and commerce payments developed with Afreximbank and the AfCFTA.

The PAPSS serves as a continent-wide platform for the processing, clearing and settling of intra-African trade and commerce payments, leveraging a multilateral net settlement system.

Full implementation of the PAPSS is expected to save the continent more than US$5 billion in payment transaction costs each year, says AFREXIM.

“BEMA Stores is currently working on integrating to Pan African Payment Settlement System (PAPSS) developed by AFREXIM Bank in line with AfCFTA,” says BEMA CEO Mmantlha Sankoloba, adding the online store has set its eyes on the vast African market following the signing of ACFTA.

Currently, the store has a visa payment platform supported by Absa bank, and BEMA is working on introducing more payment options, such as PayPal, coupon payments and EFT Payments.

Sankoloba believes the BEMA Store is the most efficient and lowest cost of sales channel to the Africa market and is happy with its progress since operating as a pilot project from 2022 to date.

“It has grown to become one of Botswana’s leading online shopping platforms. The growth is both in terms of user base and in terms of the range and number of products on offer. So far, the platform has sold over 1 500 products and generated revenue of over P350 000 from August 2020 to December 2022,” says Sankoloba.

As the BEMA moves from pilot phase, Sankoloba says, its store aims to grow the revenue to monthly sales of P1 500 000, through increasing the products on offer, inbounding more sellers and marketing the platform locally and internationally.

So far, BEMA has attracted both local and international buyers from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Norway, Europe, China and America, purchasing both e-goods (downloadable files such as eBooks, Music, Movies and Video) and physical goods.

However, teething challenges have also affected the BEMA Store, according to Sankoloba, who says, the online store suffered funding challenges and lack of warehouses, where sellers store goods.

“To address this problem we introduced an option for a separate warehousing model, whereby the address or business location of the seller becomes the vendor’s warehouse and the product is shipped from that location to the client’s location,” says Sankoloba.

“We also had a problem with financing the development and operations. The development cost and integration with our system required more time than we had anticipated.”

Daily newsletter