TKC opens business opportunities

By Ketshepile More

METSIMATALA – In the 2000s, retired teacher Ms Mavis Kelebemang from the Ghanzi district headed to the family farm in Metsimatala to enjoy a welldeserved rest after more than 30 years of service in the education sector.

The Metsimatala farms are located in the Ghanzi district, just a few kilometers past Bere village towards Okwa Valley in the Trans Kalahari Corridor highway.

Having dedicated her career to teaching and later serving with UNESCO, Ms Kelebemang chose to spend her retirement years on the farm, engaging in traditional farm activities such as ploughing and raising livestock. Over time, the farm functioned like any other, cultivating crops like maize, beans, and more. Little did she realise that opportunities would arise for the communities along the Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC) highway. When the Ghanzi District Council approached her to provide camping space for the ongoing cyclists Trans Kalahari Corridor tour, Ms Kelebemang saw the potential in diversifying her farm’s offerings. What was once a field for ploughing became a campsite, with the aging fence serving as a boundary for the area.

Developing the TKC will expose communities along the corridor to opportunities for them to improve their livelihoods.

Realising the potential along the corridor, she decided to adapt her farming practices. Although she had initially planned to focus on cultivating cattle feed like forage, lucerne, and lab, she now plans to dedicate a separate area of the farm for that purpose while enhancing the campsite experience.

Guided by the Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat (TKCS), Ms Kelebemang is looking to expand her camping services by offering traditional meals to visitors, adding another dimension to her farm’s offerings.

“The Trans Kalahari Corridor has many opportunities that people and communities can enjoy, such as tourism, truck stops and eateries,” said TKCS Executive Director, Mr Leslie Mpofu, adding that they are unlocking such potential through the cycling tour so that the corridor lives to what it is expected to in terms of spatial development initiatives and economic opportunities for the people.

“We are delighted that the Ghanzi District Council chose Metsimatala area for us to camp as we traverse the corridor,” said Mr Mpofu. He said the farm is safe for camping and that they plan to use it again for the second cycle tour next year. He said the farm, being secure, would open more opportunities for the Kelebemang’s, and said as they would camp again next year, and would require the owners to provide food for the cyclists, adding that it would further increase the economic activity as the TKCS planned to inject more funds to not only Metsimatala farms but other communities. “Cycling has shown us that a lot can be done for the people, especially that the TKC traverses the desert and places where poverty is rife.

And by unlocking these economic potentials, our people can actually benefit from the TKC and have sustainable livelihoods,” Mr Mpofu said. A South African cyclist, Brian Hansford, who is an endurance rider, concurred with Mr Mpofu and Ms Kelebemang on opportunities available along the corridor for communities. “The TKC area needs to be developed and expose the communities of the corridor to opportunities available for them to have livelihoods,” said Mr Hansford.

With an experience of 12 years in cycling, and having rode long distance cycle tours, Mr Hansford said the TKC needs to be made more attractive to tourism and local communities to use it without fear of being stranded on it.

“The road is beautiful and clean and the people are friendly, but it is not ideal to drive without sufficient and efficient network for a longer distance on the corridor particularly if one experiences mechanical problems,” he said, adding that it is a challenge which, however, needs to be addressed. Hansford therefore appealed to the TKCS to invest more on developing the network infrastructure along corridor, which would eventually attract communities to do more in terms of playing a role in the economic activities along the road, which would be for their benefit.


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