The Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Lebonaamang Mokalake, has urged the private sector to look at the global market, not just the small local domestic market, so that it can have a realistic appreciation of its potential.
Speaking at the Private Sector Development Strategy (PSDS) launch held at the Gaborone International Convention Centre, Mokalake said the private sector in Botswana is faced with a myriad of serious problems which often tend to choke its growth and development.
He said although the government has strived to provide avenues for low interest financing, and even grants, the private sector still laments the lack of working capital to finance their operations.
He pointed out that the chief aim of the strategy is to develop a vibrant private sector that will assist in the development of the country, thereby support economic growth and reduce poverty. The strategy, he said, identified constraints faced by the private sector and came up with some supportive general business climate and suitable interventions measures with the view of removing barriers to trade.
Mokalake emphasized the need for the PSDS to cover acquisition of skills that will have been identified as lacking, use of modern technology and how to avoid marginalization within the interplay of uncompromising global competition. He pointed out that the ongoing multilateral trade negotiations as well as the ongoing process of transforming SADC into an integrated trading block open countries, including Botswana, to more fierce competition.
“The private sector needs to be ready to access these markets and to exploit them,” he said, urging the private sector to access the American market through the African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA) arrangement which offers over 6 000 product lines.
“The ball is in your court; the government can be counted upon to continue addressing supply side constraints to enable the private sector to operate smoothly. It is you who should engage in trade and I hope the Strategy will be comprehensive, and that there will be something in it for all businesses,” he said.
“I hope there will be a breakthrough to this impasse and that the Strategy will enable the private sector in Botswana to play a more meaningful role and become a formidable partner in economic development,” he added.
Trade Advisor from the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, Isaac Njoroge said that PSDS has two key strategy objectives aimed at creating a conducive business environment for private sector growth by alleviating major constraints as well as enhancing the growth and competitiveness of this sector.
According to Njoroge, the support for this project hinges on the realization that the private sector is best suited in generating wealth and sustaining rapid economic growth.
“Economic growth is the most single powerful weapon in the fight against poverty, and it is through economic growth that jobs can be created,” he explained.
“A nation’s prosperity is determined by the productivity of its economy which is measured by the value of its goods and services produced per unit of the nation’s human, capital and natural resources,” said Njoroge.
He said productivity depends on the value of a nation’s products and services, measured by the prices they command in an open market and the efficiency with which they can be produced.
“I am convinced that a well elaborated private sector development strategy that is effectively implemented will no doubt contribute to the realization of Botswana’s Vision 2016,” Njoroge said.