The Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower, BOCCIM, is holding its bi-annual national business conference for the first time outside the city of Francistown. The Telegraph Reporter, VICTOR BAATWENG writes on this event that brings together top government and business leaders from the semi urban tourism town of Maun.
In order to formulate new ideas for making Botswana’s firms internationally competitive under the Theme, “Opening Botswana to the World: Attracting FDI and ensuring that Botswana’s firms can compete in the global Economy”, Botswana’s economic think tanks from both the private and public sector have met in Maun since Monday until Wednesday.
Setting the tone of the discussions on Monday morning, Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive Officer of global mining group Anglo American Plc noted that Botswana should open up to global markets and be attractive to investment.
“I know there has been a desire to diversify the economy beyond dependence on diamond mining. Despite the growth achieved, the country arguably remains vulnerable to shifts in the global diamond market. On this basis it is understandable that the leadership would like to make more progress towards having a more vibrant manufacturing, services and export economy.”
Cutifani’s experience of doing business in different jurisdictions across the world such as South Africa, Canada, Brazil and Chile and getting to know what works and what does not, stimulated frank discussions on creating the right environment for Botswana companies.
A night before the formal proceedings of the conference began, Bank of Botswana Governor Linah Mohohlo had noted that a good part of the Conference would be allocated for parallel break-out sessions to address issues that affect the competitiveness of the country’s industries.
“The key to becoming a globally competitive economy will, no doubt, require us to effectively deal with the scarcity of skilled manpower, while we continue to invest in human capital development.”
Organisers of the conference said late Sunday that the NBC will also deal with some perceptions that Botswana is increasingly becoming “closed for business” vis a vis the rest of the world, and becoming less open to global economic linkages although historically the economy has been very open to external economic connections.
At the same time, the NBC is said to be recognising that Botswana’s main challenge is now to move away from historical dependence on rough diamonds exports to an economy where companies successfully export a much wider, more diversified range of goods and services.