A Ministry of Trade and Industry official, Phadza Butale, says that properly applied, the government’s Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) initiative will give local businesses an opportunity to build adequate capacity to export to markets like the European Union.
The aim of EDD is to stimulate local production and consumption by having the government procure from locally based manufacturers. To that end, the government has introduced preference margins to give local manufacturers and service providers a competitive advantage when bidding for its jobs.
Butale was a discussant in a panel that offered insights on a presentation by the Commonwealth’s Deputy Secretary General, Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, who had earlier made a presentation on how African countries could unlock potential for economic development through economic partnership agreements (EPAs). Masire-Mwamba, who is the former Chief Executive Officer of what is now called the Botswana International Trade Centre, was speaking at the just-ended Global Expo which was organised by the same organisation.
The Southern African Development Community and the European Union have just concluded EPAs through which the former will get preferential access to the latter’s market for their exports. Butale, who works as the National Trade Negotiator in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said that if Botswana companies become competitive enough through EDD, over time they would be able to optimise the opportunity of the EPAs.
He stated that the ministry has gone around the country to take stock of the goods and services that can be leveraged through EDD.
In his 2014 state-of-the-nation address, President Ian Khama said that since its inception in 2010, EDD has been facilitating employment generating business opportunities by promoting the consumption of local products.
“While our immediate focus has been leveraging public procurement in support of domestic industries, as we move forward our emphasis will shift to developing greater internal capacity for export-led growth, while continuing to value local goods and services.
So far a total of P13.3 billion worth of goods and services were recorded since the inception of the initiative. Out of this figure, the value of local manufacturers and service providers (EDD purchases) amounted to P590.5 million for 2010/2011, P1.8 billion for 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 and P2.3 billion for 2013/2014. Over one thousand enterprises have so far been registered under the EDD Programme, which has contributed to the employment of 28,000 Batswana,” Khama said.