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By Mpho Balopi
Botswana is set to undergo a massive economic transformation that will bring it fully into the 21stcentury if the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), led by President Masisi, has anything to do with it.
In its 2019 Election Manifesto, the BDP has made job creation its main priority.
The question is, how is the BDP going to do this?
Essentially it all comes down to implementing the National Broadband Plan throughout the country and to make every corner of the country a hotspot, so that Batswana are not left behind. The BDP has pledged to fund digital entrepreneurship, research and development as well as deliver community-based training in basic internet skills.
When this happens, Botswana will be promoted as the location of choice for ICT businesses and enable every citizen to have a free and secure digital portal that will transform their lives, with even the remotest areas having both telephone and internet connectivity. In this way, ICT will be used to generate jobs and self-employment across all sectors of the economy.
The industries that have been earmarked for job creation and development are in the fields of arts and culture, digital innovation, agriculture, mining, tourism, education, motor manufacture, electronics, pharmaceuticals, solar and other manufacturing industries. Particularly exciting is the proposed development of an electric car which could create tens of thousands of jobs.
Driving towards a knowledge-based economy, as envisioned by Vision 2036, will bring the government and the private sector together with the intention of gearing up the economy for sustainable growth through partnerships with industry leaders and academic institutions to help establish sustainable and meaningful jobs, as well as wealth creation.
This proposed drive to upgrade the economy is not a new one. The BDP has led Botswana’s transformation before. The first was from a traditional low-income economy that was based mainly on the agricultural sector, to an upper middle-income resource-based economy.
The Party has now started to lead the country on its second transformation, to a high middle-income economy, making the transition from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. Botswana is currently seeing the start of the 4thindustrial revolution (4IR) in which technology will help the country develop even further.
The creative arts will also benefit as demonstrated by American comedian and actor Steve Harvey’s recent visit to Botswana. He was so impressed with the facilities at the National Broadcasting Centre that he vowed to ‘tap into’ Botswana’s impressive television facilities. Harvey has committed to moving two of his shows to Botswana by the end of this year.
The BDP also proposes the establishment of career centres to assist unemployed graduates with skills development and job applications.
Educated and skilled human capital in this type of expansion is also key. President Masisi’s vision is for the youth of Botswana to benefit from an improved standard of education and training to help them be able to compete against the world’s best talent. The BDP’s Education and Training Sector Plan is designed to bridge the gap between qualification and labour market requirements. To this end, the Government will further invest in retooling and reskilling the labour force for the new economy in order to reduce supply–demand gaps.
The BDP will further drive job creation by helping the private sector to grow by making it easier to do business in terms of regulatory issues. It will also pursue public private partnerships to deliver development projects by tapping into young creative minds and holders of knowledge to create commercial products, and to grow small to medium businesses.
The manifesto also proposes the introduction of a new Graduate Development Programme which together with the Centres of Excellence will help set up Botswana as Southern Africa’s Start Up capital.
Entrepreneurs who would like to start their own businesses from home will be empowered by the changes to the small business licensing regulations that will enable Batswana to use their homes for business ventures.
Botswana already has one of Africa’s lowest unemployment rates but with the measures that the BDP is implementing, current unemployment figures should plummet and the resultant effect will be a more prosperous nation.
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