Local businesses have been urged to be recognizant of the fact that Government has no obligation to support local productions through procurement so as to enhance growth of business.
Dorcas Makgato-Malesu, the Minister of Trade and Industry, made this bold statement during the Competition Authority conference.
“I am concerned that there is still a perception that Government is obliged to procure local products and services, which are not competitive by any international standards,” said Makgato-Malesu.
She added that whilst Government supports procurement from local producers, procurement has to be in accordance with the tender processes.
“This approach ensures that there is fair competition, and also brings out the inherent innovation expected to be drawn from the market,” said Makgato-Malesu.
Further, she said as the nation drives towards a culture of fair competition in all commercial and industrial developmental and growth strategies, there is need for mindset change on the part of businesses as well as Government commitment to drive mindset change.
In spite of Botswana being a small market prone to external shocks, Makgato-Malesu said there are no borders in the global business environment in trading in goods and services.
“As a nation, we should not define ourselves narrowly in the context of the size of the small local market we have,” she said.
Makgato-Malesu said the perception businesses should have is that of Botswana not being landlocked but ‘land-surrounded’. As such Botswana should take advantage of this land connectivity in order to break through into neighbouring markets and beyond.
Makgato-Malesu challenged local businesses to become more innovative in order to reduce the country import bill, which are already very high.
“Botswana can strategically be able to penetrate these markets and grow our exports to lessen our dependency on imports,” she said.
Makgato-Malesu said she is confident that, with a culture of fair competition, innovative business activity will be facilitated and we will be able to create a diversified industrial base.
In addition, she encouraged linkages between large foreign owned business enterprises and local small and medium enterprises to enhance their sustainability.