Tuesday, July 14, 2020

More de-regulation is just what the country needs

Botswana needs a realistic plan that could transform both the demographics as well as the economy.

At the moment many foreigners are made unwelcome both to stay here and also to start businesses.

There are many stereotypes that cultural in Botswana that make foreigners uneasy and even unwelcome.

These could be changed.

Thankfully at lower schools there are concerted efforts to make young Batswana to grow as internationalists in their outlook.

That really is the starting point, if things are going to start moving.

There is need for a plan if crony capitalism that had taken root and thrived in the previous regime is to be uprooted.

First of all, there is need for deregulation.

The only rules that could be tightened have to be those related to food and hygiene.

Otherwise ministries should be under firm instructions that for every regulation they bring forward they have to produce evidence that at least three have been taken down.

Strictly speaking many of the regulations constructed over the years were not meant to facilitate business, but to stifle it.

On immigration government has had a good start by allowing people like tourists to apply for visas once in the country.

But Botswana needs skills.

The country has plenty of educated and certificated people, but there is still a huge shortage of skilled people that are needed in workshops, industries and warehouses.

The country will never realise its full manufacturing potential if we cannot start importing skills that cannot be found inside.

The services sector too can only run with skills, and if these skills are not readily available in requisite numbers, then the Immigration Policy should be further loosened to take care of that.

Application of Visa upon arrival is already paying dividends.

It is working wonders for tourism, but it should be extended beyond just tourists.

People from Asia, especially China have started to arrive. But there are too many immediate challenges that need to be tackled.

These people need reliable transport. That means Air Botswana should be fully capacitated with enough aircraft that are fully serviceable. Routes have to be carefully selected. Right now there is evidence that there are too many routes that are not fully taken advantage of by Air Botswana. Schedules have to be looked at. That means frequency has to be increased in some routes and new ones be opened.

If Air Botswana has to be re-capitalised so be it.

There is however a clear evidentiary sign of progress in re-fleeting the national airline.

What is now needed is a right mix of aeroplanes types and models based on the need as dictated by routes and destinations.

Difficulty in connecting as well as unreliable or none-existent flight schedule turns potential tourists off.

It is important to remember that holiday makers are always willing to pay for convenience, but they get really annoyed by inconvenience.

Many of Botswana’s problems start with government.

Our government is too big and too bloated.

Nobody is able to survive in business without coming into contact with government.

And that is very absurd.

The problem so far is that our Government wants to do everything at once.

They lack focus and also, not altogether surprising, staying power.

Their messaging is also not yet entirely consistent. And more tragically not convincing outside the army of the converted.

On deregulation for example there has to be a clear pattern on what has to be done and what the objectives and what targets have been set.

The country is collapsing under the heavy yoke of over-regulation.

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Sunday Standard July 12 – 18

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 12 - 18, 2020.