The premises of the Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC) in Gaborone, Botswana, will soon embody the pride of the country, following revelations that draft proposals on the legal framework and modalities for hosting the Sothern African Development Community Productivity Organisation Secretariat (SADC PRO) have reached an advanced stage.
In response, analysts have expressed delight, and hope the nation makes maximum utilisation of the benefits that come with being the hosts.
Gabe Kaboyakgosi, Public Policy Research Fellow at the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) has pointed out that the development would have far reaching implications in terms of transforming the existing mindsets in relation to the productivity movement in the country.
“The main overall advantage of establishing a regional organization dealing with productivity improvement is that there would be strong awakening of interest in matters related to productivity in this country,” said Kaboyakgosi.
He added that this was particularly true, given that at present the civil service tends to be placed at the centre of all initiatives on productivity, at the expense of all other important factors that matter.
Mention was made of the fact that the new institution just like SADC may be classified as non state actors, means that we might begin to see the BNPC refocusing its attention beyond just providing consultancy largely for Government.
So that with the strategic significance of productivity emphasized in every aspect of business and service industry, the private sector in general which is considered to be at the heart of developmental efforts will now begin to get increased attention.
Stryker Motlaloso, BNPC Public Relations Executive, confirmed that indeed the decision to award the centre the role of hosting the RPO Secretariat was taken at a meeting of the Ministers responsible for Employment and Labour with the social partners held in April 2009 in Cape Town.
The social partners as per International Labour Organization (ILO) specifications referred to the Southern African Trade Union Council and the SADC Employers Group, which with Governments form what is known as the tripartite.
“To that end discussions are ongoing with the relevant partners, and draft proposals have been finalized on the modalities of how the new entities will operate, as well as the financial and logistical projections,” said Motlaloso.
As to what benefits the development brings to the country, Motlaloso indicated that one of the added advantages of the hosting of the RPO Secretariat it will expose Botswana to the outside world through the expanded role of the BNPC in facilitating the establishment of national productivity centres in other countries in the region as well as capacitating those that already exist.
“Again, this would mean transfer of knowledge from productivity centres of economic powerhouses such as South Africa and Mauritius, with the ultimate effect of elevating us to a truly world class centre for productivity improvement,” Motlaloso posited.
On whether, the local consultants stand a better chance to access research contracts from the RPO Secretariat that their foreign counterparts, Kaboyakgosi responded with a categorical no.
“Institutions such as these ones are by their nature, equal opportunities employers, and no one ever gets special benefits or preferential treatment on the simple basis that they are a local entity,” the BNPC Research fellow stated.
Similar regional organizations cited to validate Kaboyakgosi’s assertion included Southern and Eastern African Policy Research Network(SEPRN) and Formatives Processes on Integration of Southern Africa(FOPRISSA), all housed by BIDPA.
The FOPRISA, which is premised on a five team Secretariat, is led by people who are non citizens, employed on merit and based on clearly stipulated competencies without regard for their nationality. Only one of these experts is locally based, at the University of Botswana.