Almost ten years in existence, the BNPC (Botswana National Productivity Centre) says they have achieved discernible results in as far as instilling into the people’s mindset an appreciation of the importance of a culture of productivity.
According to BNPC, Botswana’s productivity awareness levels have now surpassed 70%, thanks to the rigorous and tedious campaigns carried by the centre over years.
BNPC Executive Director Tembo Lebang, said in an interview that across the spectrum right from the top at political leadership down to the industry floors people now understand the importance of a culture of productivity.
He, however, said what should be appreciated is that as things stand, in the absence of diamond revenue, the current levels of Botswana’s productivity levels are far from enough as to sustain the economy.
While BNPC research has over the years detected improvements in the levels of productivity, on a greater scale the country and economy have suffered tremendously, resulting in high unemployment and expensive utility costs all as a result of low productivity levels, said Lebang.
Lebang says with diamond revenues now having reached a plateau, Botswana’s best hope of taking the economy forward rests on the country’s human resources, and such an asset can only bring the results to bear as to kick-start the economy forward if the people internalized the importance of working smartly and productively.
“When we started it was difficult. People lacked the insights. There was no understanding of the importance of productivity. It has been a tedious and costly project and the situation has not been helped by people’s impatience to see BNPC deliver the results.
Luckily, cabinet has been very supportive as has been the senior servants and now everybody is moving in tandem,” said Lebang, pointing at the fact that the first years of BNPC were spent more on awareness campaigns, which by their very nature are expensive and slow undertakings that do not deliver results overnight.
According to him, the public sector, especially the central government, has already bought into the drive.
An example that Lebang gives as government buying in is the recent performance based rewards system through which officers will be progress based on an appraisal system that takes into account their delivery as per negotiated results.
While awareness campaigns are almost done with regard to the public sector, and the BNPC is now turning its attention to the private sector, Lebang observes that the private sector will prove much more difficult to win over than the public sector.
The reason is that by its very nature, the private sector is profit driven, and is not keen on spending time, money and energy on campaigns if such campaigns do not necessarily bring instant results in terms of financial rewards.
Lebang hastens to say that experience shows that while privatisation could enhance productivity, on its own, it is not a panacea to the negative work ethic engulfing Botswana.
“Privatisation is just an event and thereafter there is still going to be a lot of work especially in leadership capacity building, as well as in shortening processes.”
He said to bring about maximum rewards, productivity should be individualized so that each person gets to appreciate the importance of their small role and contribution in the overall picture either of the company and or the entire economy of the country.
“That is how many countries in Asia were better able to capture the culture and use their human resources as the primary instrument to drive their economies and out-compete others,” says Lebang.