Sunday, February 28, 2021

Give Batswana financial independence

The Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) is expected to host its 5th annual Senior Secondary Schools Finance and Investment Competition on August 19th, 2017 in the capital Gaborone.

A communiqu├® from the local bourse says it established the annual competition to sensitize and educate the student community about capital markets, with the strategic aim to increase financial literacy and to promote a culture of investing from a young age. This, we have to state without shame that is a noble project by the BSE.

Our support for the BSE competition is due to the fact that we believe that wider financial education could help stem financial losses in the private and public sectors. As we all might be aware, wasteful and irregular expenditure is rampant and has been well documented in our public institutions. Surely this is because some of the people who hold public offices are not well versed on issues of financial management even at personal level.

If the government, major companies or even small businesses ensured that more staff, other than the finance director and accountant, had even basic financial knowledge, such situations could be avoided or minimised.

History does shows that lack of basic financial understanding could lead to wrong choices that could affect both a person’s career and personal life. Some of the common problems people with low financial literacy experience is that they do not understand the importance of investing and saving for the future.

We all remember how the listing of the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) shares at the BSE in the not so distant past exposed the negligence that our country has towards its current and upcoming generations. Questions that came from the members of the public in the Facebook page of both BTCL and government left a lot to be desired. An opportunity was lost for some of our people mainly due to lack of adequate financial education, atleast just hr basics.

This amongst others is an indication of how over the past years we have dragged our feet as a country when it comes to working towards an improved financial education of our people.

This is so despite the fact that it has been clear, atleast after the 2008 recession that the need for financial knowledge has taken a global centre stage. We had thought after the 2008 global financial crisis the government or any interested party would work tirelessly to ensure an improvement in the financial education of our people starting at the very elementary levels.

The BSE communiqu├® indicate that it is looking to partner with government and institutions around the country to have stock market topics included in the education curriculum. We can only hope that those who have power use it to ensure that this comes to fruition.

We all ought to agree that creation of a wealthy Botswana nation is what should matter most, but financial illiteracy seems to be amongst key underlying factors hindrance as far as we are concerned.

Like we have said before, wasteful and irregular expenditure is rampant and has been well documented amongst our people. All these can be attributed to financial illiteracy atleast according to experts in this field.

While we hope that all those who care about the well being of our people will fully support the BSE initiative, we at the same time hope that our legislatures will soon see the need to advocate for the introduction of financial literacy training in our schools ÔÇô a move that we strongly believe will bolster financial knowledge of our future generations.

There is no single doubt that the root cause of poverty and wide gap in economic incomes in this country is undoubtedly a result of the many misguided and unsustainable citizen economic empowerment programmes that our government has pursued over the years. These policies include those that failed to include financial literacy into our public schools curriculums.

At this very juncture, it is quite evident that for those citizens that are lucky to have jobs and earn a few Pulas at the end of the month end up with zero gains. (Hand to mouth scenario). This is partly due to lack of understanding of finance matters – Without basic understanding of finance, wrong and misinformed decisions prejudicial to businesses and homes are regularly made.

We strongly believe that well-designed financial education initiatives can reduce demand-side barriers to more effective financial inclusion and can empower vulnerable individuals economically, so that they can better manage household resources and develop income-generating activities.

The #Bottomline is that our people need knowledge, support, services and opportunities in order to thrive financially. Batswana need financial independence for survival now and in the future.

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