Monday, June 24, 2024

Will the summits help jerk up the economy? 

Can business summits and forums bring about new investments that Botswana desperately needs to reach the desired economic growth of 6 percent per annum? This is one question that the Botswana Investment and Trade centre (BITC), a government agency mandated to lure investors, faces every time they announce plans to host a business summit/forum. 

In July 2023, BITC led the country in hosting the US- Africa summit which a junior minister at Trade Ministry, Beauty Manake this week described as ‘successful’. 

Manake told journalists on Thursday that following the summit, atleast four American companies are on the ground on a fact finding mission to learn more on the opportunities availed during the just ended summit and seeking facilitation to establish business partnerships in the country. 

Manake highlighted that the summit accorded SMMEs an opportunity to showcase locally produced goods and services under the #PushaBW banner adding that 40 local manufacturers were also able to showcase their products.

But now as the BITC takes the US-Africa summit off the stage, in comes the Europe – Botswana Business Forum which is slated to run from the 11th to the 12th of October 2023. Just like the US – Africa Business summit, the EU-Botswana forum is set to take place in the capital Gaborone, parallel to the annual BITC Global Expo (11th to 14th October 2023). 

BITC Chief Executive Officer Keletsositse Olebile said the high profile event will seek to bring together the business community from Europe and Botswana under one roof.

“We have linked this forum with the global expo which usually consists of exhibition alongside a conference. In the bare minimum we are expecting no less than 200 delegates but it could be more,” he said.

Olebile also said the event will help them ramp up investment across different sectors of the economy adding that it is imperative to transfer the production capacity of Europe into Africa.

The high profile event whose main objective will be to enable delegates to share to experiences, explore ways to strengthen cooperation, network and exchange ideas on trade and investment topics such as business development strategies, industry trends, market opportunities and special economic development will allow Botswana to share with delegates some of the information on sectors that are lagging behind in terms of generating more revenue.

“The forum will strengthen business to business contacts and business opportunities in Botswana while contributing to the green transformation and a sustainable development in each of the highlighted sectors on which there will be following panel discussions on life sciences, health and pharmaceutical, green financial and business services, ICT and innovation, manufacturing including automotive and E-mobility and Mineral Beneficiation.

The forum is an initiative started and led by the EU and the BITC to bring together the business community from Europe and Botswana. Participants will take part in Business-to-Business sessions, panel discussions and informative workshops. But as they do, the key question that will remain to be answered is whether forums such as the EU-Botswana Business contributeS significantly towards economic growth. Botswana needs to grow by atleast 6 percent annually if she is to become a high income economy by 2036 as outlined in the national vision (2036). So far, numbers coming out of the government enclave suggest otherwise with local economy now expected to grow at a revised 3.8%. 

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