President Ian Khama has expressed concern over failure by the private sector to penetrate global markets and its dependency on domestic markets, saying that it makes it not sustainable in the long run.
Addressing the first session of the National Business Conference held in Francistown on Monday, Khama said that it is disheartening to note that the private sector is still much dependent on government and local markets.
“While there are some export successes, firms in manufacturing and services are still dependent on domestic market and, in many cases, dependent on government procurement, something that the private sector should wean off, if its growth is to be sustainable,” he said.
Khama said that it is high time that that people take cognizant of the fact that all success of exports is dependent on capability to compete internationally. He said that relying on government as the main source of demand for goods and services is not a viable strategy for long term sustainability.
Khama added that while government must provide the enabling environment, including appropriate legislation and regulation, public infrastructure, health, education and public services that facilitate doing business, the private sector on the other hand must take advantage of the opportunities created, and establish new businesses and create more jobs.
“The government has, in an effort to improve the economic environment, put in place a number of administrative, regulatory and legal reforms to counteract and improve Botswana’s ranking in both the Annual World Bank Reports on Ease of doing business and the World Economic Forum Reports on Global Competitiveness,” he said.
Khama pointed out that to this end, government has since constituted Cabinet Sub Committee on Global Competitiveness and Doing business to oversee the reforms that have been identified to improve the ease of doing business in Botswana thereby providing a more attractive and investor friendly environment which will raise investor confidence.
“I want to call upon the private sector to take full advantage of this conducive environment and to marshal and share the private sector’s project management skills with government,” Khama said.
The President further called for an improvement with respect to private sector participation in employment creation given the eminent right sizing of government. He said that it is evident that the number of new jobs created by the private sector is far smaller than the number of people entering the labour force each year.
This year’s BOCCIM National Business Conference was held under the theme, “Interrogating Implementation: Why is it a challenge?”