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close this bookGATE - 4/93 - Botswana: Rural Industrial Development (GTZ GATE, 1993, 48 p.)
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View the documentHow to initiate rural industrial development
View the documentRepublic of Botswana
View the documentPoverty and profits: The Work of RIPCO
View the documentSmall industry promotion in hard times: The Work of RIIC
View the documentMaximizing rural industrialization
View the documentAn innovation benefits women: The Sorghum Milling Project

Maximizing rural industrialization

Technology Transfer Unit (TTU)
by Jackson Maleke

Since its establishment, the Technology Transfer Programme (TTU) has become a potential conduit through which RIIC filters opportunities for private sector development in rural areas, especially through the utilization of under capacity operations of the small workshops. Like this quite a number of jobs have been created. RIIC will continue to support the TTU programme in order to maximize rural industrialization opportunities as well as expand the scope for income generation to improve rural living standards.

Technical products and services are developed in response to problems or needs identified through extension efforts and close contact with the rural community. Although every village and every family is unique, inevitably certain common problems and successful solutions are developed through experience, as for example with the sorghum dehulling technology, which is marketed both locally and internationally.

Initially all machine equipment designed or developed by RIIC were manufactured in the Centre's own workshops, as there were no engineering workshops in the country, and only a few metalworking companies. However, by the mid 1980s the situation was changing, and a study was carried out which showed that several workshops had the capacity to manufacture RIIC products, after relevant training.

Manufacturing of our products by the private sector would enable the RIIC work shop to focus more strongly on its Research and Development mandate, without having to mix production activities and development activities - which call for different approaches.

A second major advantage was that a new capacity would be created in the private sector metal workshops, and with new products and markets expansion would take place, and new jobs would be created.

Thus came the development of the Technology Transfer Unit (TTU). The task was a challenging one. Most of the workshops had been involved in jobbing engineering, and had no experience of serial manufacture. TTU engineers had to provide extensive technical support, as well as business support, to enable the workshops to be successful in this endeavour.

Programme accomplishments

RIIC's task at the inception of the TTU programme was to mobilize technical, human and financial resources to develop the programme to a capacity that would assure effective service delivery.

RIIC trained 20 workshops in the production of at least one RIIC implement which each was ultimately designated to be produced. In conformity with this, a series of training sessions on production processes involving both simple and sophisticated technologies, took place at the RIIC Research and Development Workshop.

Regular site visits are undertaken by the programme personnel to carry out quality control exercises with the aim of providing a product that suits consumer expectations. The team also ensures regular inspection of the material for fabrication.

As a continuing part of the project responsibilities, TTU is expected to regularize provision of meaningful advice to its target group on workshop layout, production methods, safety measures, costing, marketing and related items. Additional technical support from RIIC includes provision of jigs, fixtures and templates, all meant to allow production of contracted items within established parameters.

Supporting private metal workshops

For workshops that would like to expand their production portfolio, TTU advises the entrepreneurs which financial institutions they can approach for funding support. In this connection, the programme staff have helped with completion of application formalities for funding from local financial institutions, including requirements covering requests for grants from the Botswana Government sponsored Financial Assistance Programme (FAP). Furthermore, the TTU collaborates with the RIIC Design Office team and the Research and Development Workshop to improve the manufacturability of products and technologies. This would especially address the complexity of certain technologies for manufacture by the small workshops, which may not be equipped to the standard of RIIC.

The project makes use of the RIIC Information Unit on matters relating to the production of sales brochures and operator's manuals as a part of continuing support to the local private metal workshops.

Links with local and external organizations

RIIC continues to be the link with the Government of Botswana and the private sector. This relationship is increasingly imperative because up to now, the Government of Botswana, through its Ministry of Agriculture, continues to be the key consumer of local metal workshops's products, many of which are of an agricultural nature.

RIIC continues to identify and adapt suitable technologies from other countries for replication within the TTU workshops to expand the scope for product diversification. This initiative has not only facilitated the realization and satisfaction of consumer demands, but even more important, has enhanced an enviable scope for local technology development capacity in Botswana. Consequently, reliance on imported products is reduced, leading to attachment of more value and preference to locally manufactured products.

A Barclays Bank revolving fund was set up in February 1988 as the realization that the metal workshops affiliated to the Technology Transfer Unit had constantly faced the problem of regular material acquisition due to lack of funds.


In the mid- 1980s there were various engineering workshops in Botswana capable of manufacturing RIIC products after appropriate training. The Technology Transfer Unit (TTU) was established to transfer production of RIIC products to the private sector. This had two advantages: first, it meant that the RIIC workshops could concentrate more on their research and development role, and second, it enabled the private workshops to conquer new markets with new products and create new jobs. The author describes how the TTU originated and how it works.


Au milieu de la precedente decennie, divers ateliers de mecanique du Botswana ont commence a fabriquer, apres une formation adequate, des produits RIIC. L'Unite de Transfert de Technologie (Technology Transfer Unit, TTU) a ete mise en place pour transferer la fabrication des produits RIIC dans le secteur privet Ceci presentait un double avantage: d'une part les ateliers du RIIC ont pu mieux se concentrer sur leur mission de recherche et de developpement, d'autre part les ateliers prives ont ete en mesure de conquerir des marches avec de nouveaux produits et creer des emplois. L'auteur decrit la mise en place et les methodes de travail de TTU.


A mediados de los anos 80 habia en Botswana diversos talleres de ingenieria en los que se logro fabricar productos del RIIC despues del correspondiente entrenamiento. Se creo la Technology Transfer Unit (TTU), a fin de traspasar al sector privado la fabricacion de los productos del RIIC. Ello tenia dos ventajas: por una parse, los talleres del RIIC podian concentrarse mas en su labor de investigacion y desarrollo y, por la otra, los talleres privados lograron conquistar nuevos mercados mediante nuevos productos y crear nuevos puestos de trabajo. El autor describe la creacion y la labor de la TTU.

Helping to Succeed at a "Micro Economic Scale"

The Village Skills Training Programme (VSTP)
by Jackson Maleke

Established in 1980 as a part of the Extension Department, the Village Skills Training Programme continues to contribute to rural industrialization through provision of sustainable training in carpentry, tanning, leatherworks, sewing and patchwork, blacksmithery and bakery. Completion of the training courses gear up graduates to develop a combination of perceptual and practical ideas towards starting-up their own businesses.

The programme's also based on the assumption that, although it is almost impossible to compel, with commercially mass produced goods and services, it is possible for these grassroots level technicians and producers to succeed at a "micro economic scale".

Local support structures

Training in this programme is recognizing the participants' family roles and responsibilities. Consequently, courses are reasonably short, with duration ranging from two to nine weeks. RIIC has tenaciously observed this procedure in order to facilitate ample flexibility for the target group, who are predominantly adults, to return name to resume routine family responsibilities.

The government sponsored Financial Assistance Programme (FAP), which provides a prorated grant to enterprising citizens of Botswana to start up businesses, is the main local support structure to the village skills training programme. Many of our graduates currently in business have done so through FAP funding support.

While the programme targets all citizens, a higher proportion of the benefit is geared towards the informal sector, with unemployed entreprising women getting an even higher incentive from the package, in consonant with government policy designed to encourage more women to venture into entrepreneurial activities. All beneficiaries are required to meet certain criteria among which is the need to raise their own contribution, either from personal resources or commercial banks, including the government sponsored National Development Bank. The beneficiaries are required to repay within the specified deadlines the interest bearing loan for their personal contribution to the commercial banks. No repayment is required for the FAP funding.

An additional FAP mandatory requirement for its funded operations is that they must strive as much as possible to provide job opportunities, as part of overall spin offs expected of industrialization in all sectors of the economy.

The RIIC extension officers provide valuable input in assisting the centre's enterprising VSTP graduates to complete formalities for this government funding scheme. The continued support to the client from training to funding sourcing represents RIIC's commitment to ensuring the realization of sustainable entrepreneurship in rural areas.

Revolving Fund

In 1988 RIIC introduced and implemented with external help a revolving tuna with the intention of providing start-up capital to enable its clients to meet direct purchase of capital items and raw materials. This was geared towards enabling the clients to get into production right away following completion of their VSTP-training at the RIIC. It was also meant to enable the clients to meet the 15% required for their contribution for assistance from the government sponsored Financial Assistance Programme, including commercial banks. Hitherto, 20 people have benefited from the revolving fund.

Programme course base

Each course in the programme provides training at novice and upgrading levels respectively. However, the flexibility exists to have courses conducted either at the RIIC site in Kanye or at a catchment location convenient to the trainees and sponsoring organizations.

The VSTP's objectives are:

- To increase rural productivity and incomes in both agricultural and nonagricultural sectors through the provision of training.

- To make rural areas more self-sufficient in both products and services.

- To upgrade skills of traditional artisans with the intention of increasing productivity and enhancing income generation capability.

- To provide training for beginners, to trainers or to people from other organizations or other developing countries.

- To assist programme graduates in overcoming operating constraints.
- To provide opportunities for programme graduates to be absorbed in the labour market.
- To ensure production of good quality goods that might otherwise be imported.
- To create linkages between graduates and the needs of their respective communities.

Notable achievements

The programme has increased its annual intake from 200 to 350 people for 1993/94 due to an increase in placement demand. RIIC will thus, continue to review its annual intake to determine subsequent action imposed by demand. Studies indicate that 60% of the total annual graduated artisans go directly into production, with continuing support from RIIC's extension team and collaborating agencies.

The remaining 40% of these graduates are known to have either branched off into formal sector employment, or used the artisan skill acquired as a stepping-stone for career advancement.

An autonomous; full-fledged business training component has also been introduced. It is designed to consolidate entrepreneurial acumen and rationalize progression by exposing the recipients to business management principles in order to better manage and run their businesses along contemporary management principles.

This course ha; been mounted for the first time in the programme with Bakery graduates during May /June of 1993. It is planned to maintain and extend the course to other VSTP components since it has provided incentives with long lasting impact on micro industrial capacity building in rural and pert-urban areas.

The RIIC Information Unit publishes a lo-annual newsletter in English followed by a Setswana transltion to keep the ax-trainees, sponsors and supportive grassroots organizations abreast of developments delivered through the programme.

The VSTP has six different components.

1. Baking Programme

Traditional baking in Botswana throughout history has been done over an open fire, with the result that a large amount of fuel wood was required to compensate for extra-heat loss into the open. However, with the growing public consciousness about environmental conservation, it has become evident that an optional baking mechanism that utilizes wood fuel conservatively is imperative. Consequently, RIIC has investigated efficient options and two devices were developed and actively disseminated.

The Rim oven is used for small scale bread baking. It is made from two truck wheel rims welded together. It stands on three legs and has a steel door on a hinge. Also, it has two shelves inside, on which baking pan sit. It is fired by wood. Mud bricks are used to enclose the oven and ultimately smoothed with damp mud. The strong materials used for constructing the oven make it fuel efficient. The oven can produce nine loaves of bread per batch.

Studies indicate that over 50 rim ovens have so tar been distributed and installed in rural areas, in response to the urgent demand for baked bread. With the progressive accumulation of proceeds from product sales, a medium-cum-large scale operation can be established, to maximize production capacity and enhance profitability.

The Kgotetso oven is ideally suited for large scale bakery production. The oven is made out of mild steel and bricks with a chimney. It has three insulated doors at the front. The lower door is for the fire box which is used to load the fuel wood. The middle door is used for the main oven and has two sliding shelves which make loading and unloading quicker and easier. Each shelf can hold 18 loaves.

The top door is the area used to raise the bread and also has two sliding shelves similar to the main oven chamber. A temperature gauge is positioned on the door of the middle oven. A water heater utilizes heat from the chimney to heat water for washing cooking utensils. It provides 50 liters of hot water. The Kgotetso oven produces 36 loaves per batch and up to 250 loaves per day. Better control of combustion and insulation have improved the fuel efficiency when using wood.

Currently 60 kgotetso oven installations have been put up in rural and pert-urban areas. This has led to availability of baked bread even in remote areas where hardly any bread was available in the past. With the high demand the market is sure to grow in the future.

The Kgotetso oven Mark 2 (K2 oven), either fired by wood or coal, has been developed and disseminated. It is particularly suitable for use in urban areas where wood is scarce.

2. Tannery

RIIC has since 1980 been offering training in vegetable tanning technology with emphasis being placed on the utilization of indigenous vegetable tanning resources such as tree barks, pods, leaves, and shrub tubers to provide the required tannages for skin and hide processing into leather.

The programme has also established a tanning method that can be replicated in rural areas. This approach was adopted in place of traditional tanning, for which the product did not attract a potential market due to its poor quality. Currently, a start has been made on synthetic tanning trials, the result of which will determine its rural applicability potential.

3. Leatherwork

The 8 week beginners' course is geared towards trainees with prior background in leatherwork from their local exposure. It will however, pay substantial dividends to those who had earlier taken the RIIC Tannery course and would like to venture into leatherwork for entrepreneurial purposes. A six-week-upgrading-course is geared towards refinement of stitching proficiency and coalescence of quality standard. Both courses also cover business management and bookkeeping to a certain extent.

4. Carpentry

Of a six week duration, the beginners' course introduces the trainees to basic carpentry activities with emphasis on production techniques and repair of various pieces of furniture ranging from the simplest to the complicated item, including economic use of timber. Business management, bookkeeping and costing of repairs consuture an integral part of the programme. The eight week upgrading course is designed to instill innovativeness into the trainees already in possession of a rudimentary knowledge in carpentry from the novice course. Coverage includes upholstery, bed making and repairs of a variety of high quality items.

5. Sewing and Patchwork

The four week novice course trains participants in basic sewing and pachwork techniques. It equips the trainees with the expertise of economic utilization of off: cuts to make different designs and patterns such as cushions, wall hangings and basic clothes. It also emphasizes on artistic creativity and innovativeness as essential elements for product diversification and design improvement. Lasting only three weeks, the upgrading course is geared towards refinement of skills picked up from the novice course. Greater emphasis is aid on various design parameters to assure a diversified product range for the rural market. Business management is also included in these courses as in the rest of the programmes.

6. Blacksmith course

The blacksmith programme is offered with the intention of utilizing local scrap materials to meet community needs for useable items. It also provides training in repair and maintenance of varied products, mostly domestic utensils and agricultural implements. Production and maintenance of agricultural implements have been of paramount significance m providing on-the-spot inputs to arable farmers in remote areas.

The eight week novice course is designed to introduce the trainees to handling and working with metal. Trainees are exposed to the different types of forges, their use, firing techniques, and techniques of shaping and producing metal products from heated scrap metals. More emphasis is laid on production of household and basic agricultural implements, which are in high demand in rural areas.

Of a nine week duration, the upgrading course is directed to fulfill a similar objective as its forerunner. It has the potential for growth into formal metal fabrication workshops, which will in turn provide a sustainable support to the rural economic sector.

Assistance to women

RIIC strongly subscribes to the need to integrate women in entrepreneurial activities in conformity with the Government's policy. As a result the Village Skills Training Programme has over the years witnessed an impressive level of participation by women in its training units, with 100% for Sewing and Patchwork; 98% for Bakery and almost 50% for Tannery and Leatherwork. Participation of women in trades that were historically seen as male domains such as blacksmithery, and carpentry has been even more impressive.

Support from RIIC to the VSTP

In addition to the technical training provided at novice and upgrading levels at RIIC, construction and equipping of the workshops to warrant immediate start on production, the centre continues to provide business management and bookkeeping support to strengthen entrepreneurial acumen.

All artisan owners and their book-keepers are required, before the commissioning of their workshops, to attend a mandatory simplified accounting course at the RIIC site in Kanye, conducted by the centre's accounting personnel. Coverage includes costing and pricing expressed through a job card. Daily cash receipts and invoicing procedure, as well as cash book and debtors ledger recordings are covered. The orientation also features a bank deposit and withdrawal format. This is meant to allow the semiliterate book-keepers to acquire basic knowledge for satisfactorily operationalizing a simple accounting system m their respective workshops.

Subsidiary support entails assistance with product marketing. As a result RIIC continuously extends invitations to the workshops to display their products at the district agricultural shows, Botswana International Trade Fair, Farmers's Field Days, Open Days etc., to enhance the workshops's image and afford a channel for disposing their products.

The RIIC Project Monitoring Division within the Extension Department carries out regular follow-ups to monitor accomplishments, provide advice on accountability and responsibility, and assist in charting out a suitable direction for upcoming project activities as the needs will dictate.


Grassroots-level technicians and producers in Botswana can hardly hope to compete with mass-produced goods. But small businesses do have a chance of succeeding on a micro-economic scale. It was on the basis of this assumption that RIIC implemented its Village Skills Training Programme (VSTP) in 1980, as a part of its Extension Department. The purpose of this programme is not only to train artisans, but also to introduce new appropriate technologies and basic business management skills. In May 1993 an autonomous, full-fledged business training component was introduced, initially in the bakery course. Since as early as 1988, graduates of the training courses who wish to set up their own businesses have received financial support from RIIC's revolving fund. The Centre also advises and assists them in marketing their products.


Au Botswana, les techniciens et producteurs de teas niveau n' ont quasi aucun moyen de concurencer les producteurs de produits de masse. Les petite entrepreneurs n'en possedent pas moins une dance ce reussite a "l'echelle macroeconomique'. Partant de cette hypothese, le RIIC a mis en place son programme de promotion des competences villageoises (The Village Skills Training Programme, VSTP) sous la tutelle de son Departement de Vulgarisation. II ne s'agit pas simplement de la formation d'ouvriers et d'artisans, ma is egalement de l'enseignement de nouvelles technologies appropriees et de connaissances fondamentales en gestion commerciale. En mai de l'annee en cours, un module complet et autonome de formation a la gestion a ete integre, dans un premier temps, a des cours de formation en boulangerie. Depuis 1988, les stagiaires qui ont acheve leur formation avec succes et qui souhaitent se mettre a leur compte, obtiennent du RIIC une assistance financiere issue du 'fonds renouvelable'. Le Centre fournit en outre vent assistance en matiere de commercialisation de leurs produits.


Los tecnicos y fabricantes corrientes practicamente no pueden competir en Botswana con los fabricantes de productos en mesa. No obstante, los pequenos empresarios tienen la oportunidad de tener exito a escala microeconomica. Partiendo de dicho supuesto, el RIIC establecio en 1980 su Village Skills Training Programme (VSTP) como parse de su "extension department". Ello comprende no solo la formacion profesional de artesanos, sino tambien la transmision de nuevas tecnologias adaptadas y de conocimientos basicos de gestion empresarial. En mayo de este ano se of recio un entrenamiento comercial autonomo completo, inicialmente en un curve de panaderia. Ya desde 1988, el RIIC les proporciona ayuda financiera a los graduados de los curves de entrenamiento que deseen independizarse. Dicho dinero proviene del "revolving fund". Ademas, el centro les asesora y les presta asistencia en lo relativo a la comerclanzacion de sus productos.