Professor Joseph E. Stigilitz, the eminent Nobel Peace laureate, gave an outstanding lecture on Sustainable Economic Growth in Botswana at the just ended 10th National Business Conference held in Francistown.
Professor Stigilitz, a Nobel Prize winning economist who has written extensively on the topic of globalization, was the keynote speaker during the NBC’s first session.
He said Botswana, as a developing country, has proved to be the best in Africa while most of the countries have plundered their resources.
“Botswana is an example of a good democracy and I chose the country as an example in my teachings,” he said.
He said Botswana, like the developed countries of the west, realizes that the key element of change is in its development agenda in a bid to succeed because the world is no longer living in the past.
Botswana is rich in diamonds, which currently contributes 33 percent to the GDP and over 50 percent of government revenue but warned that the economic base of the country could be undermined by the depletion of the resource.
However, attempts to diversify the economy from diamonds have proven to be elusive over the years.
He urged Botswana to learn from the failures of other countries in an attempt to avoid the same pitfalls.
“The world is faced with a crisis. The escalation of food prices, oil prices and climate change and, therefore, Botswana is part of the globe and it is facing the same challenges. You are all aware that in the past years American economic management has been a disaster, Botswana can learn from that.
“Botswana is faced with challenges such as the need for economic diversification much reliance and climate change which is a problem of the world including this country. If you consume all your resources, they can ultimately get finished,” he said.
Professor Stigilitz took issue with the way Botswana has been splashing money on agriculture, saying despite bouts of cash that was spent on the sector the results have been disappointing.
“Agriculture is one of the sectors that has been invested in and has not born high returns for the country. It is very important that countries that are not rich spend wisely,” he said.
Agriculture, as a sector, is prone to a number of challenges such as natural disasters like climate changes and drought; he said that the international community is aware of these factors hence the introduction of Global Environmental Fund to help developing countries to tackle this problem which Botswana could also benefit from.
He urged Botswana to come up with sound trade policies that will address issues of competition in the market in a bid to make its economy competitive. Government agencies will have to work hand in hand with the private sector.