The mouth piece of the private sector, Business Botswana (BB) has elected a new President Gobusamang Keebine replacing Leta Mosienyane who has held the helm until this past Tuesday.
Keebine was ushered in as the new President at the BB Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in the capital Gaborone.
Keebine takes over at a time when the overarching issue of the lack of reformation remains un-launched with progress seemingly out of sight Business Botswana. In the 2016 annual report, BB acknowledges the private sector’s prevailing pains and goes further to admit that the business community is yet to take on a meaningful role in the economy. Relating to doing business reforms, the report states, “we continue to track implementation of the reforms required on the doing business side. It is important to note that progress has been very slow to date.” In the same manner as the outgoing President, Leta Mosienyane, Keebine has the difficulty task to cleanse the private sector of its legendary issues which to date still haunt it.
Members of BB are clustered into different sectors of the economy and to illustrate the challenging realities which they are contending with, specific trends within each sector will be reviewed. Based on figures derived from the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) sector mapping sector report covering SMEs it was generally found that sectors that contributed meaningfully to economy 51 years ago when the country gained independence have over time shed a sizeable amount of that offering. According to this report though manufacturing accounted for 5.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1966 it has since declined below its 1966 level and is presently regarded as largely underdeveloped. The banking sector at that time contributed 20.1 percent of GDP but it share has since fallen below the 1966 mark. Agriculture which was the mainstay of the economy at Independence accounting for 42.7 percent of GDP has declined to only 1.7 percent of GDP. Transport, Construction, Water and electricity followed the same trend. The findings by the LEA report indicate that a material engineering for the economic sectors is imperative, perhaps more so today. In the absence of earnest intervention to overhaul the business environment bodies such as BB will keep changing Presidents but remain stagnant.
With an unflinching status quo BB will find it difficult to retain its members who depend on it to lobby sector specific issues on their behalf at such high level seatings with the President as HLCC. In other words, the change of leadership in the confederation does not dissolve it of its responsibility to attract and retain members, which could play to its detriment given that members are its sole financiers. For example, the Northern region experienced a 30 percent decline in its subscription amount, indicating the challenge of member retention.
Keebine previously served as the Vice President of the Southern region. He takes over the baton from Mosienyane who had sat at the helm of the confederation since 2013. “It has been a challenging, yet an invigorating experience,” stated Mosienyane in the annual report. With standing issues such an enabling environment and reaffirming the role of private as the engine of growth, Keebine will also face a difficult confrontation in overturning them.