Botswana businesses have been urged to form consortiums in a bid to attract international investors willing to establish strategic business partnerships and form alliances with them.
President Ian Khama said this when he addressed BOCCIM’s 36th Annual General Meeting recently, where he exchanged views with the private sector on how they can tackle major challenges such as economic diversification and employment creation.
President Khama said the country should get rid of the old bureaucracies and fast track the initiatives of building human capital to face the challenges.
“As we do so, we should exercise our minds on finding innovative and creative ways of doing things rather than getting bogged down in old bureaucracies. This calls for re-tooling our human capital with a view to building the critical mass of people with relevant skills,” he stated.
His speech comes at a time when the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is bracing itself for the free trade area by August this year while, at the same time, the regional grouping of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are working on dotted lines with the European Commission for a new trade arrangement, dubbed Economic Partnership Agreement aimed at preparing ACP countries for a full blown international free trade sponsored by World Trade Organisation.
The hope is the ratification of EPAs by the end of this year. The EU will totally open its markets for goods and services on the basis of duty free and quota free from ACP countries while, latter, it opens on asymmetrical levels. Further, the move is aimed at integrating the economies of the 78 developing nations by simplifying the rules of trade amongst them.
That is also expected to address the slow pace of the African governments in addressing the Millennium Development Goals by 2015ÔÇöwhich, among other things, is aimed at fishing out the developing countries from poverty and the chronic problem of under development.
President Khama said he hopes that the Private Sector Development Strategy, which is currently under a sketch plan, will comprehensively spell out how the business sector intends to be the lead driver in the economic growth of BotswanaÔÇöas envisaged under the six year long term plan called National Development Plan 10, which is about to start.
“It is clear from this that a lot is expected of you and I believe that you will take this opportunity to position yourselves for the challenge,” he stated.
As part of a bigger plan, government has embarked in an ambitious goal of improving the business environment in the country in a bid to attract the much needed investment as it competes with some of the emerging democracies in the continent.
In addition to the ongoing implementation of the Business and Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) Action Plan, he said he has directed that all counterproductive administrative, bureaucratic, regulatory and legal impediments to investment be scrapped-out.
“My Government has embarked on the implementation of broad-based strategic initiatives aimed at transforming Botswana into a world-class choice for doing business,” he said.
He said government continues to use its best endeavors to ensure that these initiatives bear fruit as quickly as possible. He also expects the private sector to also gear up and come forward to take full advantage of the removal of the impediments to investment attraction and business development.
Speaking at the same forum, the president of BOCCIM, Modiri Mbaakanyi, expressed concern at the current volatile world financial markets, increasing fuel prices and the growing shortage of food around the world.
“This situation is also compounded by the energy crisis in our region which is threatening the existence and growth of businesses.”
The spike in output cost has led to the spiraling inflation which has prompted the central bank to respond with interest rate increases as it attempts to stave off inflation rate surge in the local market. However, most of the factors driving the inflation rate to higher levelsÔÇösuch as crude oil and food prices ÔÇö are beyond the Bank of Botswana’s control.