A dean at the University of Botswana has said it is very possible to diversify the Botswana economy.
Speaking on Wednesday at the Global-Expo breakfast seminar at Booipuso Hall, held under the theme ‘Building Strategies, Partnerships, Opportunities Beyond Economics Crisis’, organized by UB’s Department of Public Affairs, Dr Onkutlwile Othata predicted better and positive entrepreneurial opportunities within and outside the country, saying that should all stakeholders give their effort, the diversification can be achieved.
“When we are talking about diversification we should ask ourselves what we did in the past in an effort to diversify our economy,” he noted, adding that “evidence adduced point to the fact that we did not do enough”.
He said the current global crisis taught “us a lesson or two”, warning, however, that a fallen guy is judged by the way “he picks himself up”.
“From this global crunch, we should be able to pick up pieces and concertedly demonstrate to the entire world that we too can do it, despite glaring problems.”
Although acknowledging the big challenges that lie ahead, particularly that Botswana has a small population and thus a small market that is exacerbated by the competitive markets outside the borders, Othata says common sense dictates that potential entrepreneurs must “join forces with the foreign companies”.
“If you cannot beat them join them,” he maintained, citing the Japanese and the Chinese who would not easily let local entrepreneurs penetrate their markets, such as the diamond industry, which for a long time have worked for them to boost their economy.
Othata would not buy suggestions of a saturated market, insisting individuals and countries have prospered and penetrated the world markets from adverse conditions, identifying the Middle Eastern countries which, despite their arid climate conditions, have made a mark in the agricultural front the world over.
“The semi-aridness of our country is thus no excuse,” Othata maintained, urging potential entrepreneurs “if you cannot do it, partner with those who know how to do it”.
Government, according to Othata, provides the skeletal body that is supposed to be patched with meat and soul by the citizenry to make the diversification drive a reality.