Featured case: From Botswana to Namibia:
Getting the Trans-Kalahari Railway on Track

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The case

Who – the protagonist

Robert Kalomho, Project Manager of the Trans-Kalahari Railway Project.

What?

The Trans-Kalahari Railway Project was a joint venture between the neighbouring African countries of Namibia and Botswana, which would see the construction of a new railway line, allowing Botswana to transport their vast coal reserves to Namibia’s ports.

Why?

Namibia’s railway lines only ran to the town of Gobabis, approximately 150km from the border with Botswana. Since their independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibia knew it needed to connect to all of its neighbouring countries, and the extension of their railway lines appeared the easiest way.

Botswana boasted an excellent coal infrastructure, but its rail network was in need of upgrading, with no freight route to Namibia’s coastline.

When?Railway Project

The Trans-Kalahari Railway Project Management Office (PMO) in Windhoek, Namibia opened on 15 April 2015, after the all-important Bilateral Work Agreement was signed by Namibia and Botswana in March 2014.

Come 15 April 2017, Robert and his team still hadn’t been joined by their Botswanan counterparts, as the project stalled.

Where?

The Trans-Kalahari Railway would run parallel to the Trans-Kalahari Highway, which links the Port of Walvis Bay in Namibia to the South African cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg, via the Botswanan capital of Gaborone.

Key quote

“I was really thrown into this railway project because they could not find someone else.” – Robert Kalomho, Project Manager of the Trans-Kalahari Railway Project.

Namibian flagWhat next?

Robert knew the Namibian Government had thrown their full weight behind the Trans-Kalahari Railway, funding the PMO with money, communication and equipment, but their Botswanan colleagues had yet to fulfil their obligations.

Would Namibia be best cutting their losses and investing in other projects?

 
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From Botswana to Namibia: Getting the Trans-Kalahari Railway on Track
Ref 318-0193-1
Teaching note
Ref 318-0193-8

The author
author

Katrina Simon-Agolory

Katrina discusses writing teaching notes, the importance of field research and teaching relevant cases to her students.

Helping the case community

Katrina said: “The case was definitely the most challenging to produce.

“The teaching note took a long time to write but it was not difficult to do. In fact, I really enjoyed writing the teaching note. It was exciting for me to think through how my colleagues around the world might teach the case, and to equip them with what they need to successfully teach the case.”

The power of field research

She continued: “I knew that I would write a case based on field research. 

“Field research gives the case writer a behind-the-scenes look at what really happened in the particular scenario. Although I used published sources as well for my case, the field research allowed me to write a much more engaging and accurate case.”

Appealing to studentsAppealing to students

She added: “I have taught cases to my students that I purchased. Although the cases were very good, my students just could not relate. 

“Since I am deeply committed to the case method, I kept trying to teach cases, and the blank faces of students staring back at me persisted. Finally, I gave up! 

“I decided to write my own cases that feature Namibian organisations. When I taught the Trans-Kalahari Railway case that I wrote, my classroom was alive with debate. The blank stares were gone. 

“My case was not necessarily written better than the previous ones I had used but my students could now relate. The topic was relevant.

“Case writing is hard but the impact on student learning makes it all worth the incredible amount of time it requires.”

Scholarship help

Katrina concluded: “Writing my first case was a long journey. It took me much longer to finish it than I had anticipated.

“The feedback I received on my draft case provided the constructive feedback I needed to ensure that I was on the right track. 

“The Case Writing Scholarship built my confidence to continue writing cases.

“I am happy to share that I am already working on my second case. I’m hooked on case writing. I hope to write many more cases over the course of my academic career.”

About the author

Katrina Simon-Agolory is a faculty member at Namibia Business School.
e Katrina.Simon-Agolory@nbs.edu.na

 

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