A recent report by The World Bank, titled ‘Doing business 2014: Southern African Development Community (SADC)’ has identified Botswana as one of the best performing countries in ease of doing business rankings in the region.
The report, published in June 2014, dealt with obstacles faced by companies in opening and running small to medium-size business in the region.
It considered 11 areas in the life cycle of a business; starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency and employing workers.
The report ranked Botswana first in the region as it offered investor friendly services in starting a business, registering property and resolving insolvency. Botswana was ranked among the top performing investor friendly countries in Africa.
Out of 189 countries in the world, Botswana attained position 56 after top performer Mauritius (20) and South Africa (41).
Because most SADC member states faired quite badly in global rankings, 60 percent of the countries in the world were ranked better than the region.
Only Mauritius, South Africa, Botswana, the Seychelles and Zambia feature in the top 50th percentile of global rankings when the categories were considered as a whole.
In the SADC region, the report found that it is easier to start a business, register property and resolve insolvency in Botswana while Mauritius has the best access to electricity, best performance in paying taxes as well as trading across borders. The report called for greater facilitation of trade between economies especially since the world economy becomes ever more globalised.
It identified various non-tariff barriers (NTBs) such as excessive prohibitive document requirements, slow and inefficient port of entry operations, inadequate and often lack of infrastructure as well as burdensome customs processes as contributing to extra and often unwarranted costs and delays for importers and exporters which lead to a reduction in trade potential.
The report also highlighted that ease of doing business was important for SADC regional integration and called for easier restrictions on trade across borders.
Over the years, Botswana has come under increasing pressure from institutions like Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) and the World Bank to remove bottlenecks in doing business.
However, the World Bank has commended Botswana for improving processes in dealing with construction permits, registering property, protecting investors and resolving insolvency.
By introducing scanners at its borders, Botswana also made trading across borders more efficient.
Computerisation of company registration resulted in more efficiency and substantial time reduction.
Locally, Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has established a One-Stop-Shop for investors to apply for work and residents permits as well as utilities connections.
BITC is also negotiating Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with key stakeholders, whose services directly impact the business start-up process, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of the One-Stop-Shop. As part of its mandate, BITC also offers business facilitation services to ease the process of investing and establishing businesses in Botswana.