The Managing Director of Debswana, Jim Gowans, has encouraged the Botswana Association of Tribal Land Authorities (BATLA) to play an active role by facilitating and making Botswana a country that will be conducive for investment.
During a BATLA workshop that was held in Francistown recently, Gowans said that Botswana has entered into several trade agreements to promote productive and efficient export industries with the ultimate aim of expanding market access and attracting foreign direct investment into the country which then calls for serious commitment by BATLA to do its duty of providing land when needed.
“As Land boards you also need to be prepared because all these efforts require land and therefore you should be ready to play a facilitative role and avail land expeditiously or failure to do that would result into the country losing investment opportunities to the next country,” he said.
Gowans advised that since BATLA is a member of the ┬áNational Economic Diversification Council which is tasked with driving the national investment and export, it should use the opportunity to make land users appreciate the economic value of tribal land and the critical role of land for diversification of the economy. He added that Debswana is continuing to play its part in the diversification drive of the economy through organizations such as Peo Venture capital. He also said that Debswana, together with De Beers Holdings, is also contributing to the diversification drive through sustainable employment creation.
“Over the past eleven years, Peo Venture Capital has funded 45 businesses for P30.2 million and created 1223 jobs,” he said.
He went on to say that, with regard to the tourism sector, Debswana played its part by launching the Tsodilo Hills World Heritage Site project, which aims to create sustainable opportunities for the people of the area. He said that this was done through the Diamond Trust which was set up by Debswana and De Beers Botswana Holdings to handle Projects of the magnitude and each entity has contributed P5 million to the trust.
“Debswana also makes an annual financial contribution of P600 000 to the Ministry of Agriculture for prizes for best exhibits as a way of encouraging more and more farmers to participate in agriculture and improve its contribution to the economy,” he added.
The BATLA Biennial Conference was held under the theme “Transformation of Tribal Land Administration Towards Global Economic Competitiveness”. Several dignitaries attended the workshop, including the Minister of Lands and Housing, Nonofo Molefhe.