The president Seretse Khama Ian Khama says like other developing countries, Botswana still has a long way to go in identifying new export markets as well as broadening the country’s range of export products which go in line with the new Industrial Development Policy. This he said at the ongoing BOCCIM 13th Biennial national business conference in Maun yesterday which attracted a large number of business enterprises from around the country and across borders. He said for a country like Botswana to excel in hastening economic diversification, there has to be a lot of effort put in all that needs to be done, while special attention is paid to the alignment of the Industrial policy with the attraction of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
“We all know the importance of FDI’S as well as the significant role they play in our economic development strategy. It also has a compound effect on job creation as well as the transfer of intellectual capital and technology. And so as a result, we want Botswana to be amongst other countries that are ranked as top destinations in Africa for global investors”, he said. The president also highlighted on the manufacturing sector, which he said should not be overlooked because just like the diamond and tourism sectors, it also has potential to create permanent skilled jobs. He said the many companies investing in Botswana are important attributes towards building a better Botswana, as they also have the capability of bringing opportunities in the form of technology and employment. He also noted that Batswana should not be complacent and start thinking that the status which the country obtained as a diamond centre is an end in itself, but instead work at making it a diamond centre that cannot be compared to any across the globe.
“As a country we have a lot of catch up to do. Issues such as poverty eradication, unemployment, youth empowerment, to mention but a few, still need to be addressed as we haven’t been winning in those aspects. Therefore the key is in the development of globally competitive export-orientated industries as well as working on the growth of Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMES). With my new cabinet, we are going to have to double up, and this means working even on weekends to ensure that we achieve our goal of reducing among other things, the unyielding poverty faced by our people”, said the president.
All along, he said BOCCIM has held its national conferences in Francistown, but as a way forward, he strengthened the need for similar forums to rotate venues, so that they may include all, and enable them to have a contribution on decisions that govern the business industry in Botswana.
For his part, BOCCIM president Lekwalo Mosienyane said a more rapid expansion of the private sector is essential in achieving the level of economic growth which Batswana yearn for. “As you may be aware, a number of countries in Asia have an export oriented economy, and this has helped in unparalleled reduction of poverty and a rapid rise in the living standards of people there. We also stand a chance to do the same, and this can only be achieved if we partner with the private sector and give our country the chance to prosper and improve the living standard of its own people”.
He said for the fact that Batswana run small business establishments, they still struggle hard to have their voices heard, even though they are seen to have an important role in creating sustainable employment. To make them mature into sources of a desirable middle class and wealth creation, he said there is need for well established companies to offer a helping hand, adding because they also started as SMMES, they are better placed to orientate and adequately facilitate those that come after them.