BY KABELO SEITSHIRO
Members of Parliament who sits on the Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises were once again treated to a spectacular show by the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC).
The BITC which acts as the first point of contact for potential investors in the country and the establishment of export-oriented enterprises hardly fails to share its big investment and job creation numbers with whoever cares to listen.
For instance, the national investment agency this week told the Parliamentary Committee that it has achieved cumulative Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows of P3.168 billion in 2018. The agency pegs the realised cumulative Domestic Investment and Expansions for the same period of 2018/19 at P2.273 billion against the set consolidated target of P1.9 billion.
On the same breath, BITC told the Parliamentary Committee that the total number of jobs registered by the organization during 2018/19 was 3565 against the cumulative target for the period of 3150 jobs. Services, agriculture and agro- processing sectors, followed by the manufacturing sector contributed more to realizing these jobs.
BITC Chief Executive Officer – Kelotsositse Olebile said that with respect to exports, BITC exporting companies during the period under review realised P2.628 billion against a target of P2.676 billion during the period under review in export earnings.
Despite the big figures shared by BITC, there has been one near certainty in Botswana whenever key national economic indicators stats are shared over the last several years. The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) eludes Botswana. Throughout the same years, the country continued to wobble in attracting Foreign Direct Investment despite is international good ratings. Even “good governance” that Botswana is known of has not been of much help. For some time, Botswana has concentrated so much on the pillars of FDI, but economic indicators such as the level of employment attest to the fact that a few investors have been lured into the country. The private sector mouth piece, previously BOCCIM, now Business Botswana has in the past called on the government to consider marketing Botswana not alone but rather at regional level.
This was after the realisation that 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 realised to date.
Available figures show that the country’s FDI decreased to P965 Million in the first quarter of 2015 from P1860.92 Million in the fourth quarter of 2014. Other historical figures shows that FDI in Botswana averaged P906.86 Million from 2007 until 2015, reaching an all time high of P3368.73 Million in the second quarter of 2011 and a record low of P-23.27 Million in the first quarter of 2012.
The state owned entity, BITC has been positioned as a robust organisation, taking a different form after the merger of Botswana International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) and the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA) more than five years. So far BITC has had just one founding Chief Executive ÔÇô Letsebe Sejoe who was shown the door in March 2017 and replaced with Meshack Tshekedi on acting capacity.
Tshekedi has since been replaced by Olebile, the new broom that is expected to sweep clean at the CBD headquartered agency.