Vice President, Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe has promised that government will support efforts by the Francistown City Council’s (FCC) to turn the city’s economic fortunes around and transform it into an economic hub by 2022.
FCC has set itself a vision to transform the second city into an investment centre of vibrancy by 2022 through a project dubbed “Francistown vision 2022.” The project is expected to save Francistown from becoming a ghost town.
Officially opening the first Francistown Investment Forum (FIF) last week, Dr Kedikilwe said government remains fully committed to providing all the necessary support to make sure that this vision is realized.
“The government, through various relevant Ministries will cooperate with the Francistown leadership to enhance the smooth take off of this project and nurture its sustainability. This life changing journey can only subsist on tender sustenance,” he said.
Dr Kedikilwe said Francistown is sitting on golden opportunities for investment as it is strategically positioned as a gateway to many unearthed possibilities in the northern part of Botswana, which includes among others the Chobe area, Okavango, Makgadikgadi and the eastern part of the country where there are some of the biggest dams with great tourism potential.
“The three dams, which were completed recently have a total capacity of P540 million cubic metres of water at a total cost of P5 billion. Francistown is also at the intersection of the main routes to Zimbabwe and Zambia and can therefore play a pivotal role in driving investment growth and providing linkages with clientele in the SADC region,” he added.
Dr Kedikilwe assured participants at the forum that government has put in place a number of initiatives to propel Botswana towards economic success. He gave example of the Special Economic Zones initiative under the Ministry of Trade and Industry saying this will help minimize red tape and offer investors a comprehensive and enabling environment to do business, expedite infrastructural development, catalyze technology transfer and skills developments, increase and diversify exports, grow the economy and ultimately help create employment.
“In this regard Francistown has been designated a Mining Supplies and Logistics Special Economic Zone with Tuli Block as a Horticultural Special Economic Zone. On the other hand the Rural Development Council, which I chair, supports and promotes sustainable utilization and protection of natural resources and indigenous knowledge systems as one of its key focus areas,” he said.
He said that the Rural Development Council (RDC) is of the view that there is need to actively explore economic opportunities through optimal utilization of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS). He further said that the RDC recognizes that different zones in the country are endowed with plants that have over the generations been used for food, medicine and decorations.
“Communities have over the years used art, patterns, songs, poems, dance and other invaluable knowledge for entertainment and as a way of life and this region is endowed with such resources, which I hope this forum and others throughout this land will harness,” he said.
On a different note, the vice president advised the Francistown City Council to include stakeholders such as local farmers, SPEDU, local businesses, employer associations, unions and the informal sector in the next forum.
“You need to be as inclusive as possible to enhance the success of this forum’s endeavor,” said Dr Kedikilwe.
The main objective of the forum was to deliberate on pertinent issues that will position Francistown as a city of choice for investors. It was held under the theme “An Investment Centre of Vibrance by 2022 ÔÇô A step forward to your investment”.