Saturday, December 4, 2021

Red carpet for citizen investors…finally

Local entrepreneurs and investors are about to get a boost through the investment development apex recently announced by ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry.

Bogolo Kenewendo, minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, said the ministry is working on a three pronged strategy, focusing on SME development, export development and investment development.

Under the investment development apex, Kenewendo said they seek to bring investment opportunities to investors. The term “investors” for quite some time in Botswana has usually been closely linked with foreign direct investment, which targets large corporate and wealthy investors.

However things are bound to change for the locals as the minister said the focus will be both internal and external. The investment promotions from now on will encompass both domestic and foreign investors.

Kenewendo said she is aware of complaints from local businesses and entrepreneurs who felt hard done when it comes to investment opportunities, and also concerns that citizen entrepreneurs complained about getting the cold shoulder while foreign investors are given the red carpet.

“We recognise Batswana and the contributions they have made. We are going to roll out the red carpet to them as well because they have proven their capabilities, and they can also tap on identified opportunities with our support,” she said.

In efforts to diversify, Botswana has been chasing foreign direct investment through a litany of incentives, some of which include; abolishment of all foreign exchange controls, low corporate tax rates,  and setting up a one stop centre through Botswana Investment Trade Centre, which offers investors all the required information in setting up businesses and other available investment opportunities.

In the recent Bank of Botswana 2017 annual report, it is reported that foreign direct investment continues to limited, except in mining and to some extent, the financial services industry. The Bank’s 2016 annual report identified, among others, the high cost of doing business and slow pace of improvement in the local business environment, as well as protection of some industries by government, as some factors that discourage foreign direct investment in Botswana.

Kenewendo’s ministry is currently working on business reforms aimed at improving the ease of doing business, both for locals and foreigners. The International Monetary Fund team that had visited Botswana last month to hold discussions with top decision makers has commended the Botswana government for the reforms the landlocked country is undertaking.

“In this regard, the staff team welcomes the authorities’ recent announcements of their intention to liberalize visa and work permits’ policies, reduce bureaucratic requirements, and privatize inefficient enterprises,” he said.  “Ultimately, however, the success of these reforms will depend on the speed and determination with which they are implemented (including an accelerated passage of supporting legislation), together with accountability among government entities and enhanced monitoring and evaluation of results,” said the IMF team.

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