The private sector in the development of any economy is crucial for government initiatives amid suggestions the sector is sidelined for in terms of the input on development issues and projects.
Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower President, Leta Mosienyane, criticized government’s tendency to ignore the private sector on large developmental projects, including construction of roads, which later become white elephants.
Speaking at the Central Business District seminar, the Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Johnny Swartz said his government hold both local and foreign contractors in high regard.
Private sector investments not only bring development to complement government efforts but also create employment and develop skills among locals so that they become competitive.
“I also wish to reiterate government’s long standing belief that the private sector is pivotal for accelerated growth of our economy through both formal and informal sectors,” Swartz added, maintaining the private sector remains the strategic partner in Botswana’s development agenda.
Where the government is unable to meet the requirements of its own people, the private sector often chips in, contributing in no small measure to the advancement of the country’s development.
“This why we consider the private sector to be the engine of economic growth and development,” he noted.
In 2009 government approved the Public Private Partnership Policy, whose objective is to create a conducive environment for the private sector to initiate implementation of strategic projects and partner with government for the benefit of the economy.
Plans are at an advanced stage to establish a PPP Unit within the Ministry of Finance.
The intention is to establish the PPP Unit by the end of this financial year as government recognizes that it is only through partnership that development of Botswana’s infrastructure and other services can be shifted forward with equal share and benefits between government and investors for the good of the country.
Citing the CBD as a prime example of an area that has seen huge infrastructural development in the last few years, giving Gaborone City a new and modern look, Swartz acknowledged government and private interventions in the facility.
While government took the first step in the development of the enclave by bringing primary services to the site, most of the developments such as buildings and other amenities were led by the private sector.
“That is why we believe the private sector remains the engine of growth. It was not until the private sector started carrying out its own economic activities on this site that the economic potential made by the government on the development of this site could be realized,” he said.
“The role of government should be to facilitate and ensure that the environment is conducive for business to thrive,” Swartz concluded.
Held under the themes “Investing in Infrastructure Development through PPP’s in Botswana” and “State of our Cities” facilitated and hosted by Boidus Media, the seminar brought together Botswana top investors, developers and key stakeholders to explore investment and other opportunities within Gaborone prime CBD area.
The seminar also touched on development issues surrounding the troubled mining town of Selebi-Phikwe, The City of Francistown and Palapye village.
Botswana International University of Science and Technology Vice Chancellor, Professor Hilary Inyang, said the University will bring Palapye under the spotlight.
He cited the University of Manchester in Manchester City in England which has attracted an array of infrastructural developments and services, making Manchester City a better place to be.