Saturday, July 4, 2020

Botswana Bankers joins the “Diversification Chorus”

Several years before the now popular pandemic – Covid-19, it became clear that fierce competitions from world markets were amongst other things that rose from the globalisation tide which continued to make economic diversification for little Botswana imperative.

However, with the emergence of Covid-19 at the beginning of this year, questions continue to arise whether the once diamond rich country has been moving in the right direction of diversification.

Even before the end of the pandemic, already calls on the need to disentangle economic diversification and track it with monitoring and evaluation of programmes have been made.

Amongst the leaders of the “diversification chorus” this week was none other commercial banks.  The leading bankers are of the view that Botswana government should seriously consider diversifying the local economy and review some of its policies to stir the country away from import dependence while at the same time increasing none-mineral revenue.

First National Bank Botswana Chief Executive Officer, Steven Bogatsu says post Covid-19, diversification is going to be very key for Botswana.

He says some of the industries that will start emerging is the health and pharmaceutical sector and the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

“We will need people who will support digital migration. We will see higher uptake in digital platforms by customers and avoiding branch visits which is a positive in the right direction.”  

On the other hand, economic pundits have in the past said with high rural share of employment and potential for broad-based employment impact, the agriculture sector has been identified as critical for diversification and poverty alleviation in the country.

Whilst its contribution to GDP has been falling over the years, the Agriculture sector has also been picked as an alternative.

Currently there are continued Government subsidies through the Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) project and the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD).

On the other hand, a continued land servicing initiatives is expected to boost the construction sector and, ultimately, industries are expected to start operating in areas outside main cities and towns, which will stimulate economic growth.

For his part, BancABC Chief Executive Officer, Kgotso Bannalotlhe, says the country should be more aggressive on citizen economic empowerment and engage Batswana owned companies so that they can create employment.  

The central bank’s latest Monetary Policy report also suggests that, increase in financial and business services as a result of implementation of reforms on the ease of doing business in Botswana will boost the sector and promote greater financial inclusion.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of June 28 - 4 July, 2020.