The fact that investors choose where they want to take their investment has hampered Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into rural areas, parliament was told this week.
Maxwell Motowane, junior minister at the Trade and Industry ministry, said this is also worsened by lack of availability of services such as hospitals, schools and recreational facilities.
“BEDIA was set up to promote and attract foreign direct investors in order to enhance our efforts to diversify the economy,” said Motowane. “However, due to the fact that investors would normally choose where they want to set up, influenced by availability of support services such as schools, hospitals and recreational facilities, it has not been easy to attract them to rural areas, as we would have wished,” he said.
MP for Shoshong, Philip Makgalemele, had asked the Ministry of Trade and Industry what measures had been taken to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to rural areas.
He wanted the relevant minister to give examples of rural areas that had benefited from such efforts since the establishment of BEDIA.
“Another problem that we have in our effort to attract investors to rural areas is the non-availability of serviced land,” he added.
Motowane said that in order to deal with this, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, along with Ministry of Lands and Housing, had to work on a strategy of allocating land banks to BEDIA in a number of local authorities.
However, he said the problem is that most of this land is not serviced.
BEDIA, which recently welcomed Jacob Nkate as CEO, is also planning to encourage domestic investment that will focus on new investment by local investors and expansion of existing enterprises.
BEDIA acts as the first point of contact for potential investors in Botswana and aims at the establishment of export-oriented enterprises and selected services, which will result in economic diversification, rapid economic growth and creation of sustained employment opportunities.
So far the agency has assisted Gemmi Rubber Company, which manufactures condoms in Lobatse. A Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company is being set up in Selebi Phikwe.
Others are Glass and Steel Manufacturing Companies in Palapye, Kago Phepha Cement Manufacturing project in Mahalapye and Makoro Chickens in Makoro.
Motowane said that for any meaningful investment to take place there is a need for a conducive environment, which includes properly serviced land with good telephones, road networks, industrial power and proper sewerage.
Last week, Kenneth Matambo, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning said that BEDIA would be merged with the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).