The Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA) Chief Executive Officer, Lameck Nthekela, says BEDIA continues to receive positive leads and conversions regardless of the budget.
He said BEDIA leads have been accumulated over a period of time and conversions are realized according to the implementation schedules of the companies. He added that in this case, the budget does not directly have an impact on lead generation.
Nthekela further stated that the Ministry of Trade and Industry is tasked with a national goal of diversifying the economy of Botswana beyond its reliance on minerals, and diamonds in particular. He said to grow the non-mining share of GDP requires the Ministry to implement strategic industrial development initiatives, such as, e-registration of companies, a functioning one step service centre and, in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, avail serviced land for industrial development.
“The budget as pronounced could only avail what can be done under a tight economic outlook. The limited funds mean certain activities will be suspended or have to be undertaken at a later stage to facilitate industrial development in Botswana,” said Nthekela.
He said the budget is not the only stimulator to FDI because investors look at a spectrum of factors when they decide to invest. He gave an example of availability of skills, raw materials, land, political stability and abundance of the resource as in mining operations. He stated that with the little surplus that they have realized provides them with hope that there will be partnerships created, particularly in the construction sector.
Nthekela said in this case, more activity will be created in the sector, as little progress will now be undertaken, thereby creating employment opportunities. “The Tonota-Francistown road is such an example,” he said.
Nthekela revealed that the Doing Business Report has indicated areas where Botswana needs to improve its competitiveness and the government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has come up with a committee chaired by Industry and Trade minister, Makgato Malesu, to address those impediments.
“Non tariff barriers and quality standards and accreditation issues and inability of supplying buyers on consistent basis are major challenges currently faced by both local and foreign business communities to penetrate in some foreign markets,” said Nthekela.
He further observed that since Botswana is a net importer of fuel indeed they are subject to worldwide shocks as continuous increases in fuel prices have a direct impact on our import bill. He said in this case, the import bill has to shoot up and invariably the cost of food and other commodities also rises, thereby putting an upward inflationary pressure on the economy.