Botswana government’s aim of shoring-up its investment potential image in the United States of America was clouded by the political crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Botswana’s team, which was headed by the Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Duke Lefhoko, made whistle-stops in three cities of Atlanta, Chicago and New York where they were consistently questioned by potential tour operators on the status of politics in the region ÔÇô especially the on-going political crisis in Zimbabwe.
The mission, whose trip started on July 17 and ended on the 24th, was made up of officials from the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA), Botswana Tourism Board, Botswana International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) and Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA).
Lefhoko told a press conference this week that despite the Zimbabwe issue, the mission scored a resounding “success and achieved its primary objective of profiling investment opportunities that exist in Botswana”.
He said about ten potential investors expressed interest in a range of fields, such as pharmaceutical, manufacturing of standard and custom optics, PET bottles and glass, importing of organic food, coal mining, alternative sources of energy, and Public and Private Partnership programmes.
“About 40 leads were generated from this mission and follow up will be made to encourage the companies to set up in Botswana,” he added.
Botswana is crossing its fingers for those who expressed interest to set-up shop in the country in a bid to create the much needed jobs and contribute to the economic growth while at the same time they get competitive return on their investments.
“The delegation took advantage of various platforms of investment promotion such as interactions with the business community in the form of breakfast seminars and focused sectoral sessions. Also, one-on-one sessions were held with specific potential investors,” Lefhoko said.
He said the issue of ICT development captured a lot of interests from some of the investors who attended the seminars. The move comes at a time when Botswana and a group of other African countries are in frantic moves aimed at providing high capacity broadband capacity across the region. Botswana has already positioned itself as an ICT hub for Southern Africa through participation in high capacity under sea optic fiber cables in the east and west coasts of Africa.
“These investors also learnt that Botswana has already invested in the East Africa Submarine System (Eassy) and that separate negotiations are on-going between Botswana-Angola and Botswana-Namibia to determine the most feasible way for Botswana to access the undersea optic fiber cable in West Africa,” he said.
Regarding the Tourism sector, Lefhoko said a great deal of interest was shown in Botswana’s tourism and the audience generally felt that Botswana has a great product to offer.
He said the challenges that came to the fore were lack of direct air access into Botswana, especially from long-haul destinations such as the USA and the effect that Zimbabwe had on Botswana’s tourism.
Furthermore, the trip provided the fledgling Botswana International Financial Service Centre to present Botswana’s value proposition to financial services companies, fund managers, Private Equity and Venture Capital companies, firms and associations that have a direct or indirect interest and influence on investment decisions into Africa and other emerging markets.
Speaking at the press conference, the Botswana International Financial Service Center’s Chief Executive Officer, Allan Boshwaen urged the Botswana business community, especially the financial services to improve their readiness so as to lure investors to this country.
“Botswana is a gateway into broader Africa because of our peace and stability, which continue to be an important ingredient for any investor,” he said, adding that they are courting those investments that are critical and strategic ÔÇô those that will create employment.