Saturday, May 30, 2020

Botswana urged to take bold decisions to drive growth

Lawrence Clarke, Former Governor of the Bank Botswana and Economic advisor to the President of Liberia, has urged Botswana to take some “bold initiatives” for the long term goal aimed at propelling economic growth to ensure that it does not run out of steam.

“Most importantly at this stage of its development, Botswana must be prepared to take more risks.
“A few bold initiatives will be the only true long term enablers and determinants of sustainable economic growth and, above the norm, ensuring that current trends of growth do not run out of steam,” he said at the just ended National Business Conference held at Tati River Lodge in Francistown.
Clarke praised Botswana for its political stability, strong balance in its leadership, strong tradition, well adopted institutions and its steady financial management.

However, he said the country is faced with a number of challenges such as high unemploymentÔÇöamong the youth ÔÇô high poverty rate and weak infrastructure that stands at an impediment to manufacturing.

He attacked the dominance of the government in service delivery and the sluggish growth in the private sector development saying this has resulted in a situation where there might be some inefficiencies in the service delivery in the country side.

Clarke, a renowned economist who also worked with the World Bank, proposed that Botswana could use its financial muscle to set-up a sovereign wealth fund that could be used to invest in the neighbouring countries .

“Government needs to build on existing robust financial infrastructure, use private direct investments to better promote supply chain responses and stronger private sector formation (building on diamond, nickel and cobalt industries).
“BOCCIM should be used in this process to underpin these with the creation of diverse economic zones. This should be located across Botswana and will help capture large pools of labour from Zimbabwe, South Africa, etc. thus resulting in production, trade and employment creation, which will develop both Botswana and the region,” Clarke said.

Dr Clarke stressed that Botswana should take a long view and invest decisively in a pool of African countries even post conflict African countriesÔÇö- undergoing some reconstruction exerciseÔÇöpointing out other countries like China, India and Brazil are already doing it.

“These post conflict countries have some potentially most lucrative markets in the world, with prospects of supernormal returns,” he said.
He further stated that Botswana can boldly invest in the creation of Technological Parks concept and, within that angle, there will be direct investment thus empowering environment to induce regional players.

He added that this will create a knowledge infrastructure within Botswana that could directly benefit the nation but mostly the region and continent.

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Sunday Standard May 24 – 30

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of May 24 - 30, 2020.