Saturday, May 30, 2020

Three-some cluster to boost economic growth

BY PORTIA NKANI

The Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Nonofo Molefi has revealed that the development of three clusters has already taken off to help with the much needed sophistication of businesses.

The clusters are; Tourism, principally in Ngamiland, Beef from Molopo to Sandveld and Finance and Knowledge Intensive Business Services around Gaborone.

Molefi said: “the Higher Education Cluster will also be pursued as a priority area in the financial year 2019/2020 and the focus will be around Gaborone, initially.  The project is being implemented in collaboration with partner ministries; Ministry of Environment, National Resources Conservation and Tourism – for Tourism; Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security – for Beef and Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry – for Finance and Knowledge Intensive Business Services.”

In the Mining Cluster, one of the priority areas identified is mining. That presents an opportunity for Francistown since it is located in a mining area. This cluster will therefore, be further developed.

“There is also an opportunity for Francistown and the region around it in the development of Tourism Cluster that will extend to the Ngami area. One of the key improvement areas for the Tourism Cluster is product development, including food supply into the cluster. Beef from the Francistown area will be part of the value chain for the Beef Cluster,” the Minister revealed.

Furthermore, Francistown through the Francistown College of Vocational and Technical Education, can position itself to provide specialised training for the Tourism Cluster in which skills development is a great challenge.

With respect to the ongoing Tourism Cluster initiative, the Francistown region is closer to the market that is being developed for the tourism sector around the Okavango, Ngami areas. Therefore, beef from the region could be supplied to that area. In the case of replication of tourism model in Francistown region, the area can also benefit from the development of Tourism Cluster which will go a long way in improving the value chains in the sector, especially in terms of recreation, conservation and supplies required in the tourism sites.

The areas that can be development within the cluster catchment area include inter alia Makgadikgadi, Nata, Goo-Moremi, Domboshaba, Patayamatebele, including Tachila Nature Reserve.

Beef cluster

Molefi further indicated that, opportunities will exist once the Beef Cluster is replicated in other areas, including the Francistown region. The private sector is expected to play a leading role and spread opportunities within the beef value chain.

Although the pilot exercise does not currently cater for Francistown city and the region, Molefi said: “We anticipate success on the replication of the project. Another opportunity arises from the horizontal policies that will emerge from the ongoing clusters, for example, targeted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy and entrepreneurship policy. Improvement in the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem will have an impact beyond the Financial and Knowledge Intensive Business Services (FKIBS) Cluster in Gaborone, and will benefit more geographical areas including the Francistown and its environs.”

Financial and knowledge intensive business services

Development of the Finance and Knowledge Intensive Business Services sector can lead to the growth of the Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs), Information and Communications Technology (ICT), as well as improve general business services and entrepreneurship in the city.

Establishment of companies will foster business spillovers resulting in widening employment opportunities, wealth creation and improved living standards. It is also worthy to note that the current establishments pursued under the Finance and Knowledge Intensive Business Services in Gaborone are also in existence in Francistown, and what remains to be done is to improve the sector by developing specialised services. The country aspires to move to a higher income status, and development of a Higher Education Cluster in future, will facilitate the tourism, beef and FKIBS sector in the region with requisite skills in developing the economy.

The cluster approach elaborates the industrial development policy and the diversification strategy in the Botswana excellence strategy that endeavors to reduce economic dependence on diamond revenue. It also promotes private sector as the engine of economic growth. Economic clusters will enable the private sector to play a more significant role as the initiative is private sector led.

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