The Botswana Confederation of Commerce and Manpower (BOCCIM) Chief Executive Officer, Maria Machailo-Ellis, says there is need to plan for better involvement of the private sector with focus on efficient advocacy that will lead to improved business and investment climate in SADC.
Speaking at the Association of SADC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCCI) strategic plan workshop in Gaborone on Friday, Machailo-Ellis said Africa as a region is increasingly focusing on regional integration and on strategy for achieving sustainable economic growth. She observed that regional integration will also ensure that poverty alleviation, enhanced movement of goods and services, infrastructure development and promotion of peace between the regions will be achieved.
“There is need to discuss the activities required to deliver the strategic objectives, as well as the implementation plan for the fund mobilization strategy,” she said.
Furthermore, she said there is need to enhance the private sector’s role in the regional integration agenda. She stated that the structures, such as chambers of commerce, are instrumental in shaping the business environment in the region.
Machailo-Ellis said sustainability of various capacity development efforts remains a key issue. She said that there is need to revisit each country’s private sector to shape the country’s path of economic development in order to be ranked best in the business community.
“In Botswana here, BOCCIM will continue to play its role of changing environment and carry on with being the voice of all businesses in Botswana,” she explained.
For this part, European Union (EU) representative to Botswana, Jochen Pottgen, said EU has consistently sought to promote regional integration notably as a means of overcoming the drawbacks of small and fragmented markets, to make countries more attractive to Foreign Direct Investment and to spur economic growth. He revealed that some of the packages initiated by the EU to promote trade for small operators in developing countries include extension of practical information on trade policies and market information as a complement to the EU held desk.
“While progress has been made, the private sector remains weak and divided at regional and national level,” said Pottegen.
According to Pottegen, the EU private sector is keen to establish strong links with SADC private sector. He said what is required is strong leadership with a clear vision, adding that ensuring verifiable standards for food and other agricultural products will also promote increased food security and enhance the ability of the region to compete in international markets.
ASCCI is a regional private sector apex organization that brings together SADC National Chambers of Commerce and Industry from all the SADC member states and was established in 1985. The work meeting involved the key organizations such as SADC secretariat, EU Delegation, CDE, GIZ, and International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA).