The government has in the last financial year spent over P2 billion procuring local produced goods and services under its flagship programme, Economic Diversification Drive (EDD).
The EDD has been designed to benefit local companies and harness citizen economic empowerment.
Chief Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, Kaelo Kaelo says out of the P2 billion, the largest amount of P2,296 was spent paying for services such as consulting , maintenance and repairs, cleaning and security services, publishing and printing as well as rental and hire. Still during the period under review, atleast P 493 million was spent buying local produced construction materials such as cement, bricks, door frames and agricultural produce.
“The scheme was started in order to promote full and effective participation of citizens in all spheres of economic activity geared towards economic growth and development of the country as well as ensuring equitable distribution of wealth or wealth creation and poverty eradication”, Kaelo said.
Besides buying goods and services from local companies, Kaelo says EDD also promotes reserving some business activities for citizens or citizens wholly owned companies under different legislations such as Trade Act, Liquor Act as well as citizens’ preference schemes.
Commenting on the problems the scheme is facing, Kaelo admitted that there is low product base which makes Botswana a high consuming country resulting in huge import bill. At the same there is failure to meet tender requirements or specifications, price competiveness and supply reliability by some companies. To resolve these problems he says his Ministry runs programmes aimed at developing and building entrepreneurs skills.
Initiated to diversify the country’s economy, EDD aims to stimulate local production and consumption from small, medium to large enterprises, with government procuring from locally based manufacturers and service providers.
The programme is implemented at a time when critics and industry players are calling for a Citizen Empowerment Law that will give procuring entities the legal standing to buy locally. They argue that empowerment in Botswana’s neighbours including South Africa is guided by a clear legislation. Currently, government relies on instructions and directives without clear cut laws that support citizen entrepreneurship.