Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Bogolo Kenewendo says a total of P3.2 Billion worth of Foreign Direct Investment was realized in 2018/19 against a target of P2.3 Billion.
The positive FDI inflows were as a result of a number of companies investing a significant amount of money under the International Financial Service Centre IFSC and the mining sector. Meanwhile, a total of P3.4 Billion worth of Domestic and Expansions investment was achieved in the same period against a target of P2.8 Billion.
In contributing towards fulfilment of National Development Plan 11’s ultimate goal of addressing the country’s main development challenge of unemployment, the Ministry facilitated and funded creation of 7756 jobs from April 2018 to March 2019. A total of P370.7 Million worth of investment has been realized since implementation of the SPEDU Revitalization Strategy, culminating in creation of 1.5 jobs. For the year 2018/2019, Domestic and Expansions Investment stood at P176.6 Million and P43.9 Million was realized in Foreign Direct Investment creating 623 jobs. Over 3 hundred jobs have been realized from April to July 2019. The construction of the Plathan Bridge is 88% complete.
Kenewendo said BOSSC processed a total of 602 government authorization and achieved 97% approval rate in the previous year. In the quest to promote and facilitate the establishment of investment opportunities across Botswana, BITC opened a new regional office in Francistown in March 2019.
Meanwhile, the Ministry through the Local Enterprise Authority LEA has reviewed the Leather park business plan. Following approval of the revised business plan, the project manager is currently reviewing tender documents to accordingly align them and this was finalized last month. To this end, consultations with various stakeholders are being undertaken with a view to ensure adequate supply of leather once the park becomes operational. In this regard hides and skin collectors, exporters, artisan tanners and leather product manufacturers elected an interim national leather industry association to work with government on 31 Just 2019.
LEA presented a business model for Letlhakane Municipal abattoir which will be used to produce quality hides and skins to key stakeholders. Development of the business plan is on-going. First meeting of intuitions of High Learning, Botswana Qualifications Authority BQA and Human Resource Development Council HRDC was held on 6th August 2019 to mobilise them for training and skill development for the leather industry.
Further, meeting with fodder production unit was held to mobilise fodder farmers to use treated waste water and boreholes with enough water to produce fodder to mitigate drought. A list of fodder producers is being compiled to ease contact. A breeding plan for small stock farmers has been developed to assist them in small stock rearing so as to address low off-take, birth and mortality rates.
Under the Export Development Apex, Kenewendo said the Ministry will facilitate export-led growth by promoting export of goods for which the country has a comparative and competitive advantage. She said through the Export Development Apex, new markets have been secure for Botswana exporters. ‘’as of June 2019, market access for a number of products to the East African Community has been secured.
Tariff negotiations were concluded under the auspices of the SADC-EAC-COMESA Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement. Product lines to benefit immediately from the liberalized trade include beef, processed salt and plastic tubes. Under the current review of SACU- European Free Trade Association, Botswana stands benefit from increased market access for products- beef and lamb meat.
Further, under the African Continental Free Trade Area negotiations, Botswana will benefit from access to almost all African states market. New markets have also been acquired in Zimbabwe and South Africa, exporting lab equipment and organic fertilizer respectively. In addition, six textile companies have been selected to supply Cash Bazaar retail stores.
Furthermore, the Minister noted that the Revised National Export Strategy was launched in May 2019 and has identified priority sectors for export as follows; Arts and Craft, Garments and textile, jewellery and semiprecious stones, leather and leather product, meat and meat products, and light manufacturing and indigenous products sector,
She highlighted that seven companies were taken through QMS training, while seventeen were assisted to develop export marketing plans and diagnostic assessment were done on 14 companies. Kenewendo underlined that BITC with the support from UNDP have engaged the services of Imani Development consultancy to develop the Revised BEDP.
International Trade Centre has committed to assisting BITC with efforts to help set up an e-commerce marketplace to sell products manufactured by Ngwao Boswa Basket Weavers Association. Products are to be marketed and sold through either Amazon Handmade or Esty virtual platforms. She also said that Options currently being explored include opening a PayPal Business Account at FNB Botswana, as opposed to setting up a subsidiary company in the US.
Moreover, she noted that BITC in collaboration with Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development are working towards building a storage facility in Gumare to stockpile products for external market. To this end, fabrication of structure has been completed, and it is awaiting transportation to Gumare for handover.
The operationalization of Medium to Long-Term and Outward Insurance Initiative Products was approved in August 2018 in line with the National Economic Development Council NEDC approval. MLT encourages businesses operating in Botswana to export capital goods or participate in projects outside the country with medium to long term repayment terms, whilst OII encourages investors operating in Botswana to expand outside the boarders.
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.