Twenty years ago, a 19-year-old boy from Sefhare reported at Botswana Police College to enroll as a constable.
Little did he know that this was a foundation for bigger things to come..
As fate would have it, on August 10, Permanent Secretary to the President announced appointments, promotions and transfer of senior public officer. Top of the list was Dr Oldman Koboto being appointed as Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism permanent secretary.
Dr Koboto’s story to success was marred by risks and perseverance.
Immediately after completing Cambridge Certificate, he was employed by Tswana Builders as a labourer, at time being assigned as a spray painter, electrician and often he was to bend steel.
His breakthrough came in 2000 when he joined Botswana Police Service where he was given 11976 as his force number.
After completing his training, he was posted to Francistown at Kutlwano Police Station, doing general duties before being transferred to criminal investigations division, where he left as a constable after two years.
Dr Koboto left Botswana Police Service after one of his colleagues, now Assistant Superintendent Uyapo Julius, told him about the availability of scholarship and requested him to drive him to Ntshe House to collect the forms.
According to Dr Koboto a lot of police officers jumped into a van he was driving to fetch the forms and just out of curiosity, he also grabbed a form and tried his luck.
He said out of about 15 police officers who were stationed in Francistown, he was the only one whose application was successful.
He said he applied for the sound engineering course at University of Western Cape, but before they could be enrolled at tertiary they had to do matric first, where he met about four police officers from Molepolole and Francistown.
Dr Koboto said he did his matric at Damelin Rosebank House High School and amongst the five subjects he was to do, Mathematics was one of them. But he had already changed his mind to dump sound engineering course for law.
In January 2004, he was the only one admitted to study law at the University of Western Cape, while four of his colleagues were admitted for different courses.
As the best performer during his final year, he was picked for an exchange programme at Howard Law School, where he studied international business transaction.
In December 2007, the then police constable was armed with a Bachelor of Law degree and he joined the Attorney General Chambers as a prosecutor.
“I was a prosecutor for two years. While I was at the chambers, I enrolled for Masters in Environmental Law at the University of the Western Cape, I then left chambers in 2009,” he said.
Armed with Masters in Environmental Law, Dr Koboto, who is also karateka, was seconded to the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, from 2009-2011. His roles included advising on legal issues related to the environment and conduct of government business.
He was mainly advising on multilateral environment agreements and their negotiations and drafting of environmental legislations and regulations.
Some of his major achievements were drafting of Environmental Assessment Act of 2011, establishing the National Environmental Fund as well as developing the plastic levy.
Dr Koboto was one of the founding members and the brains behind Botswana Environment Assessment Practitioners Association that gave birth to the current 2010 Environment Assessment Legislation Act.
While he was still a legal advisor, he developed interest in climate change issues thus engaging in international debate surrounding climate change.
“You know as a lawyer, you will get fascinated by negotiations, and then I thought, perhaps I could do something around climate change and started putting that together in persuing doctorate in public international law in climate change, whilst I was still with the ministry, because I could see in terms of research, it was going to be easy, when I am interfacing with climate change negotiations developments” he said.
Sometime in 2010 while presenting in a workshop that was giving feedback to climate change negotiations, his brilliance caught the eye of the Chinese Embassy officials who were present at the workshop.
“I received a call and they told me that they were very much interested in the perspectives that I presented during the workshop and they were just wondering if could venture into more discussions around my perspectives on climate change negotiations” he said.
He was then invited for a meeting at the embassy and it was when they asked him as to what he was intending to do. He informed them that his desire to pursue a Phd and he was immediately offered a scholarship to pursue Doctorate in Public International Law in climate change at China University of Political Science and Law.
In 2011, he had to quit his job and relocate to China. His stay in China was painful because he had to survive on P2 000 allowance and it was the only income that he could get at that time.
However, upon completing his Phd, in 2014, he was then offered a position as the director of wildlife and national parks, where he was tasked with amongst others to provide policy direction and strategic leadership in all matters pertaining to wildlife management and other functions supporting the smooth operation of the department.
Some of his achievements included development of intergovernmental cooperation strategy in anti-poaching, organising and conducting a summit on Africa Elephants, and developing the Wildlife Policy of 2013.
In 2014, he did not negotiate for his contract to be renewed but opted to be a UNDP consultant on climate change response for Botswana, where he engaged as a lead consultant for the development of climate change response policy for Botswana.
In 2015 until 2019, he was head of environment and climate change at the UNDP, supporting the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism.
However, on March 31 last year he was appointed as the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism deputy permanent secretary responsible for environmental affairs.
On November 17 last year, he was then appointed acting permanent secretary until this month when he was appointed the permanent secretary.