Saturday, March 6, 2021

Botswana, SADC peers urged speed up opening borders

Professionals from financial services and the agriculture took turns to amplify the need for the government of Botswana and its counterparts within the SADC to speed up processes of opening up their borders to allow for free movement of people, especially workers.

Addressing the question of how Botswana can be positioned into a regional financial services hub, in spite of the country’s geographical location and small population, the Managing Director of AON, Dr Thapelo Matsheka said that it need be realised and accepted that all African countries have the chance of becoming their region’s financial hub. That scenario, he explained, emanates from the fact that Africa presents opportunities.

“It is always a question of what can we as a country do to attract financial markets players and leaders,” he told a gathering of businessmen and women as well as representatives of countries from Africa, South America, Europe and Asia who attended the four day 2013 Global Expo hosted by its custodian, Botswana Investment and Trade Centre. At least 200 exhibitors attended the expo, according to a statement by the acting Chief Executive Officer, Letsebe Sejoe, which was published in the Expo’s catalogue.
Dr Matsheka further pointed out that at present; there is no country in the region that boasts of all attributes that can give it a status of being a financial hub.

Given that scenario, argued the founding Chief Executive of Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency, it would be more beneficial if regional countries which have a lot in common were to consider embarking on some collaboration to enjoy the fruits of attracting high value financial services market players.

A typical of that collaboration would be between Botswana and South Africa, he said, observing that the two countries have a lot in common and that they have strength that if used to complement each other, can make them (Botswana &SA) attract more financial market players into the region.

There is need to create synergies between Gaborone and Johannesburg, he said, further noting that Botswana in particular, should increase her importance as a gateway from South Africa into the rest of Africa.

Dr Matsheka wondered why SADC countries, especially Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland who are all members of the Southern African Customs Union (began operating in 1910) have still not open their borders for their citizens and goods to move freely.

Some of the requirements that Dr Matsheka singled out as part of that which a country looking forward to being a financial hub should have include high end market human capital; a business environment characterized by economic freedom that extends to a situation that allows for ease of doing business; low levels of corruption and; low levels tax laws.

A country wishing to transform itself into a financial hub should also provide, as an incentive, good market access that rewards investors with both high volumes and value of the debt and equities markets.

In addition, such a country should be home to good infrastructure exemplified by good office space and reliable transport system. “And the perception of quality of life forms part of the requirements,” noted Dr Matsheka who has a work experience of 25 years, spanning from his early working years as a government employee before moving to university of Botswana where he served as a senior lecture for 14 years. He would later move to CEDA in 2003 where he served until 2010 to take up his current job.

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