The furniture Industry has a P500 million market available to capture locally, if government comes up with policies that encourage growth of the industry, said Amjad Mohideen, the Chairman for furniture manufactures.
“There is so much opportunity for the furniture industry to grow locally and create employment,” said Mohideen.
He said at 7 percent annual growth, it will take 25 years at least to reach 50 percent (P 245 Million) of the current market share.
“We foresee uneasy times lying ahead, if government does not intervene urgently,” he said.
At least, 92 percent (P540 million) of the furniture in the country is exported whilst 8 percent (P50 million) is exported. Mohideen underscored that, as an industry, they are not asking for monetary support but, instead, policy change.
He said the industry has been hurt by glut of Chinese cheap furniture and manufactures are struggling to sell furniture as no one wants to buy locally made furniture because cheap Chinese furniture is available.
“The cutthroat business climate, more and more furniture companies are taking advantage of cheaper furniture to survive, leaving local manufactures with no market for their furniture,” Mohideen said.
Despite their low quality, the cheap price is the main reason why Batswana and furniture companies prefer Chinese furniture.
“We need support from the local furniture shops if we are to capture the P500 million market,” he said.
He appealed to government to look into its tendering system and have the tender document stating, “Manufacturers only” for the tender of goods made locally.
He added that Government should de-centralize its supplies.
Mohideen requested Government to consider coming up with a policy that all furniture imports coming into the country be proved by the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBs) to allow for reputable quality furniture in the market.
Mohideen said there is a great improvement in the quality of locally produced furniture; as such there is no need to import.
Shops selling their poor quality furniture at very low prices have mushroomed all over the country, out numbering the local furniture shops. “All manufacturers must obtain BOBS certification to supply Government and to compete in the international market,” he said.
Absence of a skilled labour force is one factor inhibiting the industry to match international standards.
“Finding skilled labour is a major challenge and foreign skilled workers are denied work permits,” he said.
The furniture industry employs about 3500 workers.