Sunday, September 27, 2020

Botswana losing the international shine

Too much concentration on macroeconomic fundamentals by Botswana authorities has resulted in a near detrimental negligence of the equally important micro economic factors.

This is already causing a backlash that may take long to be corrected.
While the country has, to a large degree, successfully tackled such issues as inflation, crime, corruption and infrastructure development it is losing out on business competitiveness.
Overall even when measured along the scale of the economy index, Botswana is going down, say researchers.

The blunt and scary message contained in the Competitiveness Report released by the World Economic Forum this week is that Botswana is losing grip on all fronts: quality of business environment, company operations as well as across a host of other competitive components.
The country is lagging behind in both world rankings as well as at regional levels.

While in the WEF 2004 report, Botswana occupied the respectable position of 45, the country has slipped deeper in this year’s.

That is already causing shivers across the economy.

Researchers say while the number of countries being evaluated by the WEF has increased and the methodology has changed, Botswana’s decline is real and, therefore, cannot be accounted for by such dynamics.

However one looks at it, say the researchers, the reality is that compared to other countries the quality of Botswana’s business environment has steadily deteriorated over the last few years.

This means that the country is losing the shine on those fundamentals that matter to companies that would want to settle in the country.

In fact, the country is faring so badly so much so that it is not improving its score on any front at all, observes the report.

Countries like Kenya and Mauritius, which only a few years ago were trailing behind have since overtaken Botswana on many fronts.

This is the blunt message contained in the competitiveness report released by the World Economic Forum this week.
Analysts this week were united that Botswana has effectively lost the luster with which it has been known over the years.

A Senior Researcher at BNPC (Botswana National Productivity Centre), Dr Magagula Thobokwe, said consensus has been reached that the most disconcerting problem eroding Botswana’s international competitiveness is poor work ethics which has seen the country slip down from top fifty to sixty seven.

She said this is in contrast to other countries like South Africa, Tunisia, and Mauritius who are standing their ground, with some of them effectively improving their competitiveness rankings.

The only notable to accompany Botswana in the slide is Namibia.

She stressed that Botswana’s deteriorating ranking is real and effective and should be taken seriously.
While other countries are going up Botswana is going down.

It was also pointed out that perhaps as a result of complacency, public institutions in Botswana are less accountable than they were a few years back.

Monnane Monnane, a Research Fellow at an independent think tank, BIDPA, said while Botswana continues to get international accolades from Transparency International that corruption levels were the lowest in Africa, perception by businesses on the ground point out to growing levels of the scourge.

Monnane said Botswana is today relying on fewer exports than was the case in the past.

“This effectively means we are less diversified than we were a few years back,” he said.

He further pointed out that overall productivity trends show a decline.
“All available data indicates that Botswana is losing ground.”

He said a number of competitiveness issues have to be addressed.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.