Saturday, February 24, 2024

SUNDAY STANDARD REPORTER Discovery Metals Limited (DML) was on Friday declared insolvent and forced to go on voluntary administration after its finan

Afena Capital Managing Director, Bakang Seretse has challenged government to deliberately create indigenous financial institutions that will support the country’s national objectives and help tackle current challenges of unemployment and slow economic growth.
When making a presentation on how to create jobs and tackle unemployment before the Afena Capital press club on Thursday, Seretse challenged investment banks and asset management firms to finance national projects and ensure that Batswana own businesses that can grow the economy and create sustainable employment.
“We are concerned at the alarming number of foreign owned firms in our country because their commitment to development and employment creation is limited, especially since they are allowed to repatriate their profits. This also suggests that we actually have a financial security threat,” said Seretse.
He added that such a move will not necessarily be protectionist, but will be a deliberate move by government and other stakeholders to be realistic with the country’s economic situation. Seretse also challenged government to encourage companies to take pride in creating gainful and sustainable employment. He also called on government to make it mandatory for companies to report their employment performance as centrally as they do their profits.
“Why can’t we ask companies to indicate how much employment they have created in their financial reports? We could also develop a Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) index for companies that are serious about maintaining and growing employment. Even the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) can include employment creation as a critical parameter,” said Seretse.
He also challenged government to adopt a commercial mentality and remove the perception of Botswana as a “sleepy country.”
“Why is it that everything shuts down at 6pm? That is a lost opportunity at creating wealth and employment. Our malls must be vibrant throughout, not only at month end. If anything, we could vary pay days so that our economy is on a buzz throughout the month. We must transform Botswana into an attractive and competitive place of business,” he said.
The greatest challenge for Botswana is that its old engines of growth, especially public service and mining, are now moribund. At the same time, there is a serious skills mismatch because the country’s education programs have not kept pace with industry demands.
Looking forward, Seretse believes Botswana should focus on job creation and support small enterprises as they are the new engine of growth. He also believes it is important to focus on developing those sectors in which Botswana has a comparative advantage. He challenged government and the private sector to come up with a single, explicit national job creation strategy through which they will uniformly and consistently apply the same value framework as a national objective in implementing their respective day-to-day business activities.
“We must all promote citizen economic empowerment, inculcate and nurture a national entrepreneurship culture and remove all regulatory hurdles that are not consistent with employment creation,” he said.
As a way of promoting employment creation, Seretse also challenged captains of industry to eliminate corruption, ease access to finance by developing non-traditional financing sources for small enterprises, and promote vocational and technical skills training on engineering, mathematics, science and other technical skills.
“It is important for Botswana to continuously assess the global competitiveness of potential labour intensive industries and position key economic sectors for industrial and consumer acceleration into Africa,” said Seretse in conclusion.


Read this week's paper