Despite the aftermath of the world economic recession, the Managing Director of Debswana, Blackie Marole, has urged the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) members to utilize the competitive advantages that Botswana has in order to excel in business and further penetrate the global markets.
He said this at a gala dinner organized by BOCCIM during the weekend in Francistown.
Marole indicated that although the economy is still trying to recover from the crisis, there was need for the private sector to turn the challenges into strength and be strategic in order to survive the adversities and achieve progress.
“The global crunch has affected the whole world, but there is need to forge ahead and focus on the way forward and further turn challenges into opportunities,” said Marole.
He indicated that a lot of people in Botswana have attributed the poor performance of the Agricultural sector to the poor soils, underdeveloped infrastructure, a small market due to small population, which he indicated as unnecessary as it only acted as a constraint of becoming innovative and coming up with creative ideas.
Marole indicated that people should deviate from crying over constraints but rather be innovative and come up with ideas of how to turn threats into strengths and move ahead. He went further said that technology could be utilized to combat some of the challenges, adding that the low population in Botswana could not be a disadvantage as some have claimed because Botswana was part of the global village.
“There is an advantage of doing business in Botswana; we have a stable democracy, good governance and strong financial reserves,” Marole said.
He highlighted that Debswana was hit hard by the recession, but the mining company has tried by all means to sustain jobs for its employees as they were of value. Sometimes in times of recession, he said, one can only worsen the situation by laying off employees.
However, Marole indicated that Debswana was not spared by the crisis, as the sale of diamonds depreciated and left the company with insufficient funds. He added that even services were affected as people were no longer buying luxuries in order to compromise for the basic needs.
He urged the BOCCIM business community to be disciplined when it comes to borrowing and lending practices.
“This recession was caused by irresponsible borrowing and lending therefore it is very imperative that discipline be in place,” said Marole.
He added that there was a decrease of diamond sales at Debswana due to the recession but they were hopeful because, a year later, the sales have increased. He said that Botswana was well positioned because of its financial reserves and he was optimistic that the recession will be over by 2012. Marole added that beyond 2012, the diamond will become rare and the demand will become high.
“The other sectors such as beef production are also going to do well because consumers in Europe prefer to buy organic meat and most of the cattle in Botswana are organic,” he said.
Marole pleaded with the private sector to always be proactive because the economic crisis was unpredictable. He also advised the private sector to explore every opportunity in the country such as in agriculture, tourism and mining.