Botswana wobbles in attempt to attract FDI - Dr Jefferis
by NGONIDZASHE DZIMIRI
Economist and financial sector specialist, Keith Jefferis, has said Botswana continues to wobble in attracting Foreign Direct Investment.
Botswana has done much in pursuing its own strategies and assembling its own baskets of incentives to attract new investments, however, not much FDI inflow has been realized.
For some time, Botswana has concentrated so much on the pillars of FDI, but few investors have been lured into the country. However, Jefferis has attributed the dismal performance to the wrong mindset on the part of the government and the general populace.
“Mindset change is required on the part of government and broader population to attract FDI inflows,” said Jefferis.
“The FDI levels are low given the size of the economy and comparing with other countries,” he said. The Domestic market is tiny and is not sufficient to attract the much needed FDI.
He bemoaned the reality on the ground as not supporting rhetoric. “Foreigners are denied work and residence permits and unused land,” said Jefferis. This, unsurprisingly, inhibits investor confidence, said Jeffries, adding that there is keen competition among developed and developing countries to attract foreign direct investment.
“Botswana should be competitive enough to attract FDI because it is very mobile internationally,” said Jefferis.
He added that the absence of a competitive jurisdiction is another factor that holds back foreign investors in the country.
“No foreign investor can risk investing in a country where there are no conditions that will make them realise profits,” said Jefferis.
Jefferis cited the one -stop -shop that Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA) has wished to establish since 2003 but could not due to absence of political will.
“This is one good example where mindset change is needed,” he said. The idea of establishing the one -stop- shop is to provide convenient and efficient service and also to create the opportunity for the country to attract more investors.
In addition, he encouraged Botswana to embrace openness to attract FDI inflows.
“We have not embraced that mindset in support of globalization to bring FDI,” he said.
He urged Batswana to develop a culture of investing in other countries as this would encourage foreigners to come and invest here. “Unless we change those things we will not be successful in attracting the much needed FDI, certain things need to be done,” said Jefferis.
He highlighted that some countries like Brazil, that have made it in attracting FDI have invested a lot in ICT and Botswana is lagging behind so much. “ICT is particularly important for a landlocked country like Botswana and should invest a lot in bandwidth,” said Jefferis. Mindset change, which he underscored, is urgently needed if any foreign investment is to be brought into the country.