Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Letsebe Sejoe says confidence must be placed on Batswana as they have the potential to bring about development solutions which plays a role in achieving growth benefits from FDI.
Sejoe made this remark at the Fresh thinking series held on Monday when sharing on the role that active citizen participation can assume in the economy in terms of broadening the thinking to opportunities available.
The attraction of FDI into the country is the responsibility of BITC through its investment promotion activities that package and sell Botswana as the ideal destination for investors to come and do business. Sejoe however challenged the sustainability of FDI by highlighting that investors’ priority is to derive value from the money that they use in the country and not necessarily to support the development of the country as such a role should be taken on by citizens. “It is far much sustainable to have an economy in the hands of citizens. You can’t afford to have citizens as by standers,” he said.
Sejoe in that regard dispelled the myth that FDI is the ultimate answer to the country‘s goal of establishing new growth areas in the economy to further support its development by highlighting that that the same voice, incentives and opportunities expressed to foreign investors should likewise be articulated to local citizens. He admitted that the message of active citizen participation doesn’t come out well enough from BITC hence making Batswana spectators to the development of the country. He stressed that it is high time Batswana started taking an affirmative role in the economic development of the country. “A dollar worth from FDI is no different from a dollar from local companies,” he said. He expressed that more Batswana companies should take advantages of the opportunities available. He supported this view by mentioning that there are local companies that have demonstrated capability in making such a contribution.
When speaking on Botswana as the ideal destination for doing business within the context of Sub-Saharan Africa, Sejoe asserted that an investor establishing a business in the country is likely to succeed. His reasoning is that Botswana is open and ready for trade. Currently, he said, BITC has 44 companies with export capacity across 42 varied product items. He gave examples of manufacturing, tourism and ICT as areas where opportunities can be developed. He mentioned specific to manufacturing that investors can establish a base by finding a niche within the global manufacturing value chain instead covering the broader ground given that Botswana doesn’t have the advantage of economies of scale which its neighboring country South Africa has.