Botswana National Productivity Centre Information Resource Manager, Dr Phumzile Magagula, said Botswana’s economic performance is not up to scratch and lags behind other middle income countries in competitiveness.
Speaking at the Competitiveness Conference organised by the Botswana Economics Association and Friedrich Foundation last Friday, Dr Magagula said the conference has come at an opportune time given growing concern about the country’s performance in the area of competitiveness.
“Botswana’s competitiveness as reported by both the World Economic Forum and the World Bank has not been particularly pleasing. There is a growing belief that the country is falling behind its potential even though growth remains positive,” said Dr Magagula.
She said when compared to other African countries that seem to be achieving recognizable strides in their competitiveness, Botswana which was formerly regarded as the jewel of Africa, is slowing down.
Explaining that competitiveness is a non ending game, she said Botswana should strive to put more effort on improving competitiveness as the ongoing global economic challenges make it even more urgent for countries to focus on improving economically.
Dr Magagula further outlined key areas which are hindering Botswana‘s competitiveness according to the World Economic Forum which were: poor business sophistication and poor efficiency enhancing. She acknowledged this on mismatch of skill and poor quality of education.
She further said the quality of education is low, especially on the area of Research, Maths and Science which are known to be economic pillars. She cited a research by UNESCO that shows children’s below par Science and Maths at primary school or standard four students.
On the issue of business sophistication being poor, Dr Magagula said a lot is left to be desired when it comes to giving the right graduates the right jobs. She said sometimes graduates are either too qualified or less qualified. She said this calls for deep introspection and investigation in this area. Dr Magagula also said that focus should not only be put only on government when looking at low level of business sophistication. She said the private sector should also be held accountable because it has appropriate technology.
According to the Global Competitiveness Index by the World Economic Forum, the other issue that kills efficiency is the market size which scored at 2.9 putting Botswana on number 97 out of 144 counties. On this issue Dr Magagula said people cite Botswana’s small population as a contributing factor. However she said it is not about the population being small but about what the country does with its resources.
According to the Global Competitiveness Forum, in basic requirements Botswana is ranked 78 out of 144 and scored 4.4. In GCI 2012-2013 Botswana scored 4.1 ranked at 79 also out of 144 countries. In the areas which were highlighted as poor, efficiency enhancers and innovative and sophistication factors Botswana scored 3.8 and 3.4 respectively. On rankings Botswana was ranked at 89 and 82 respectively.