Sunday, May 29, 2022

Implementing EDD will be key, say private sector

The private sector has praised government for its ambitious Economic Diversification Drive (EDD), but warned that it should pay attention to the implementation of the project.

The strategy, which has been partially implemented since April, is aimed at preparing local entrepreneurs to be competitive regionally and globally as Botswana is a member of multilateral organizations.

Loago Raditedu, Executive Director of Exporters Association of Botswana told The Telegraph this new government commitment will promote the local manufacturing sector.
“The issue of implementation and collaboration of stakeholders will be key (for the EDD to succeed),” said Raditedu.

“The impediment was that we are not competitive”, added Raditedu saying the commitment will now allow banks to give business trade finance.

“The banks will look at the sustainability of the projects”, he said.
BOCCIM on the other hand, praised the move saying it is a culmination of their contact with the Ministry of Trade and Industry over the opportunities for the private sector and the general economy.

“We have to look at the spirit”, Nornam Moleele, BOCCIM Deputy Executive told The Telegraph. “We have CEDA funded projects, but we do not support them”.

Moleele said because of its huge purchasing power, government is taking the lead. Government purchases goods averaging P20 billion per annum.

But because local or citizen companies lack capacity and have questionable quality, they account only for a small portion of what is been procured with procurement skewed in favour foreign suppliers.

EDD comes at a time 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.

However, Moleele explained that the legislative process follows the implementation of a policy first suggesting that in future Botswana might be an Empowerment Law.

“The process is that before legislation you start with a policy. The process of citizen empowerment policy is ongoing. There is a process and we are deeply involved on it”, he said.

BOCCIM, which is an organisation that lobbies government to create an enabling environment for its members, has in the past come under pressure to come up with industry supporting decisions.

The Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS), which examines the quality of goods entering the market, is one example of the organizations that came because of BOCCIM’s advocacy.

But Moleele believes as local companies are given more space to prove themselves, it will, at the end of the day, be the people who purchase their goods and services that will decide whether they accept them or not.

“The question of quality is subjective,” he explained. “We are concerned about the quality, but at the end of the day it is the consumer who will influence how the product is received in the market”.

Consumers say the quality of local vegetable produce compares to the ones from across the border.


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