PARLIAMENT – Labour and Home Affairs Minister, Edwin Batshu said Friday that there is need to develop a comprehensive policy to protect the informal sector as it has great potential for employment creation and economic diversification.
Batshu, who was speaking in support of a motion tabled by Francistown West Member of Parliament Ignatius Moswaane said the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs has long detected challenges faced by the informal sector. As such, in 2013 the Ministry undertook a baselines study on women in informal cross border trade.
“This study recommended formulation of a comprehensive informal sector development policy as the sector has proven to be a viable vehicle for generation of wealth, economic growth as well as economic diversification,” he said.
The total number of informal sector businesses in Botswana as at March 2015 was pegged at 116, 571. At the same time, the total estimated number of persons employed in the same sector during the same period was 191, 176. On Friday, Batshu revealed that various studies have shown that women in Botswana are the ones who are predominantly found in the precarious informal sector. At the same time Batshu admitted that conflict with authorities, especially local authorities remains amongst the key challenges that the informal sector faces.
“The sector is also faced by challenges such as poor working environment which does not take into account health and safety factors. There is also undue exposure to economic and financial risks largely due to the low levels of education among informal sector players,” he said.
The policy is also expected to be gender responsive. Currently Botswana’s constitution offers no legal provision for affirmative action to place women in decision making.