Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Mwaba says BEMA should play crucial role in Botswana’s industrialisation

The Botswana Exporters Association has ushered in new executive board that has already stated its intention of making the organisation visible and relevant to current market forces.

The new BEMA President, Nkosi Mwaba, told Sunday Standard he would like to see the body that represents exporters playing a prominent role in Botswana’s industrialisation and economic diversification.

At the same time, he and his new team would like to re-establish a footprint and presence in the market and adopt efficient strategies to fulfill the mandate.

“As we do so, we will reflect on the last 19 years of existence since inception and take stock of our successes and challenges. Our goal is to remain relevant to current market forces and address pertinent issues that will enable a conducive and sustainable business environment for our membership,” he said.

“We will be more visible and firm in articulating our agenda with stakeholders by enhancing our lobbying and advocacy efforts. I am confident that with the support, experience and wisdom of the new Executive Board you will see the birth of a new BEMA,” Mwaba added.

BEMA has been in existence for the past 19 years and the new Executive Board that includes Mwaba, Michael Morapedi, Rajiva Chandra, Buzwani Manyepedza, Boitumelo Mathambo, Fazul Zahir, Patrick Masikara and Stembile Tawengwa will be ushering the organisation into its 20th anniversary in March next year.

The youthful Mwaba, who is taking over from Loago Raditedu, said there are priority issues that need to be addressed, key among these being to re-establish and strengthen BEMA’s relationships with strategic partners and stakeholders.

These include Government through various Ministries and support service structures as well as members themselves and other industry associations.

“We have already paid courtesy visits and held conversations with key stakeholders that are critical to the success of BEMA and I must say we have in many instances essentially hit the ground running with our new approach,” he stated.

The other priority area is restructuring the Secretariat to suit “our envisioned strategy and vision”, he said adding that there is a great deal of work to be done to achieve this “but I have every confidence in the Board and Secretariat who share my vision and enthusiasm for change”.

He also revealed the need to work on improving BEMA’s image and visibility saying they will be embarking on various public relations activities and engage in a marketing campaign to highlight their service offering and relevance.

“Our 20th Anniversary milestone presents and excellent opportunity to re-launch the BEMA brand and capture the attention of relevant stakeholders as well as to attract and improve our membership base.”

According to Mwaba, the growth of BEMA membership base would largely be determined by the wins, successes and the track record the umbrella body continues to build.

He said they need to be relevant, have understanding of members’ businesses, industries and the challenges they face.

“We need to be representative of the needs of the entire manufacturing industry in Botswana even beyond our membership base in order to articulate ourselves meaningfully in our lobbying and advocacy efforts. It is also important to note that BEMA does not only represent the interests of the textile sector but all manufacturers and exporters including service providers,” he said.

“How successfully we engage with Government and stakeholders from all our sub-sectors and influence policy will make our membership more attractive. This will take time. Part of our mandate is to identify and develop export markets for businesses in Botswana, we need to be more active in scoping the regional and global landscape,” he added.

They will also be looking to consolidate and provide empirical statistics on locally manufactured products and share this information back and forth with our members and other stakeholders so that we have a more accurate picture of our capabilities as an industry and as a country.

Equally, they would reflect on their limitations such as production capacities, quality issues and other constraints and impediments to the growth and sustainability of our businesses.

“Manufacturing requires significant investments and a conducive and healthy business environment is critical for all players involved. BEMA will advocate for policies which are cohesive and practical for Botswana businesses, we will benchmark on best practice models that have seen success in other countries and regions and pool together expertise and resource partners that will help us to achieve positive results. Our desire is to have a significant positive impact on the economy of Botswana.”

According to Mwaba, the domestic market is a good test for export readiness, and one needs to start at home.

“It is just as important for the mining and retail sectors to support local manufacturers by streamlining their procurement strategies and procedures more towards supporting the local manufacturing industry,” he said.

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