The Botswana High Commissioner to India has advised businesses in Botswana to be more accommodative and more flexible in their interactions with Indian investors who show interest in doing business in Botswana.
She has also said it is important that the Government of Botswana changes their mindset by becoming more efficient in processing all the necessary requirements like visas, work permits and office spaces.
Dorcas Kgosietsile said India has become a very important global economic player, and every country wants a slice of the country’s market and expertise, which made competition for Indian investors very fierce.
African countries that do not have systems in place to meet the increasingly stringent conditions set by Indian investors stand to lose out, she said.
“There is a lot of competition between us as African countries. This makes it more important for Botswana Government to move swiftly in reviewing investment policies,” she said.
One particular area she stressed is that of incentives. Over and above assessing their chances of making good money were they to set up in Botswana, investors often evaluate investment incentives offered by host countries and then compare those with other countries, said Kgosietsile.
For those reasons, she said Botswana Government should continually revisit its investment policies and incentives offered.
“We should bend to accommodate these companies’ needs. While as the High Commission in India we tell potential investors here about all the goodies of doing business in Botswana, it is equally important that on the ground back home we show a change in mindset. Otherwise we will lose out in this very tight competition,” said Kgosietsile.
The biggest challenge facing the office of the High Commissioner in her national assignment to lure Indian investors to Botswana is that, buoyed by the many options and choices at their disposal, investors have over the last few years become more assertive in their demands as pre-conditions for setting up their businesses outside India.
For example, investors seeking to settle in Botswana have often complained about the turnaround time of such things like work permits, residence permits and visas.
Botswana Government has also been advised to review utility prices, especially telephone and water costs with the aim of making the country regionally competitive.
Since late last year, Botswana Government has been engaged in a comprehensive overhaul of its investment strategy. This was after President Ian Khama spoke of the need to increase Botswana’s Foreign Direct Investment.
A Counsellor at the Botswana High Commission to India, Zenene Sinombe, agrees with Kgosietsile on just how difficult it has suddenly become to convince Indian investors to do business not just in Botswana but anywhere outside India.
“To be honest, Indian investors have many options. To convince them to come to our country we need to have in place a coordinated approach. It is imperative that as a country we show that we are ready for such investors when they come to Botswana,” said Sinombe.
He gives as an example the tendency among citizens to insist on being majority shareholders in joint ventures with foreign companies as ill-advised, especially since in many instances Batswana do not have capital muscle to kick-start the projects.
“For most of the time the only thing our people have would be a license. And to be frank if you do not have money to start the business then that license is just a paper,” Sinombe.