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Chinese people answer President Khama’s call to eradicate poverty

To eradicate poverty, the President of Botswana, Ian Khama in his inaugural address of 2009 identified poverty eradication as one of his flagship programmes. The coordination thereof was subsequently housed in the Office of the President.

 Packages introduced were mostly agricultural. Such range from bee keeping, backyard gardening, poultry, backyard tree nursery and landscaping to cite a few. The ineluctable fact is that the government did not take up arms against poverty alone. Embassies, the private sector and other independent stakeholders were implored to help. The Chinese Embassy in Botswana and the Chinese people living in Botswana are among those that answered the appeal, subsequently playing a plausible role in the agricultural sector.
Status quo

The Ministry of Agriculture’s Division of Research and Statistics says, about 69 percent of the population benefits from agriculture –as farmers, labourers or both. However, due to regular and prolonged droughts, the Ministry states that both crops and livestock have not been performing as expected. Notwithstanding challenges exacerbated by climate change, “the Chinese government has contributed to this industry through training. A few of our officers have attended courses in Head Management, Poultry, and Equines. Some travelled to China to benchmark, observing modern technologies employed by China,” says the Ministry’s Chief Information and Public Relations Officer, Boikhutso Rabasha.

Nevertheless, she called on China as a first world country to share its modern technologies. She said China should demonstrate and sell farming inputs and equipment at reasonable prices. As she believes Botswana can learn a lot from China. As for the Chinese community, other than direct involvements in farming, Rabasha says some have added value in the industry by opening food outlets to extend the food value chain.

Chinese Farmers

 “It’s about time we diversified farming in Botswana. We cannot fight changing weather patterns or do anything about unpredictable rains, but we can look for and invest in plants that will cope. Which is why I decided to plant moringa trees,” says HuHe says this at a time when the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in partnership with the United Nations are fearful that Botswana could fail to reach UN goals on poverty eradication. The Botswana Sustainable Development Goals Roadmap launched by the partners in February 2018 cites high income inequality and failure to achieve inclusive economic growth as factors that demoralise poverty eradication.

Hu Yan, is a Chinese moringa tree farmer based in the outskirts of Tlokweng village. He is one of the Chinese people that responded to the Presidential call, taking to farming regardless of the fact that Botswana is a semi-arid country with unpredictable rainfall. A challenge that continues to discourage local farmers, consequently also hampering the endeavour to end poverty. Hu has been living in Botswana since 1996, and so he now considers Botswana home, a home for which he is doing all he can to help attain food security as he is well aware of the struggle.

In October last year after partnering with property mogul Sayed Jamali, Hu planted 10 000 seedlings at the Tlokweng farm. After three months, most of the trees had grown to over three meters long.  “We packaged several product samples this past week and took them to the President for appreciation and approval,” says Hu. His plans are to produce tea, medicinal powder, green noodles, juice and moringa nuts, then sell them to local shops, eventually exporting the surplus.

 “I plan to export to China, America and Europe. This tree cannot grow in those countries because of freezing weather conditions,” he says, excited at the prospect of commencing production work in his factory in March 2018. Hu’s moringa tree farming project has not only created employment for Tlokweng villagers, it has also inspired local farmers to consider investing into the moringa tree farming business.

“The other day my boss brought moringa mageu. My workmates drank it all and would not stop boasting about how delicious it is. Now I see that a lot of moringa products can be manufactured and sold,” says Kelibileone Diomano, a supervisor at Hu’s moringa farm.
Diomano enjoyed agricultural subjects at school, and because of this job he has been doing for Hu, he is considering planting his own trees.

“I used to think that moringa was a useless thing women liked selling on the streets. I knew nothing about it until Mr Hu. Right now I see the potential this plant has to develop and influence my life for the better,” he expounds. Before investing into the Tlokweng project Hu Yan motivated citizens to farm moringa, but his Gamodubu and Oodi village efforts failed due to lack of commitment and support on the part of his Batswana partners.

“I constantly encourage locals to buy and plant these trees, some do yes. But some think two years is a long time to wait for the tree to fully mature. They overlook the fact that you plant once, and for twenty years or so after, all you do is reap the benefits,” says Hu, adding that, “after three months of planting even, the leaves can be harvested and used as herbs when cooking eggs or they can be boiled in hot water to make tea.”

 The benefits of investing in moringa he says are almost immediate. As a farmer Hu’s interests do not solely lie with moringa. At the Tlokweng farm, he and his partner are currently constructing a 1,800 square meters green house with the intention to plant vegetables, fruits, and flowers to sell to the local market. “This first one is only a pilot project, if it succeeds, we will construct three more. If this farm produces to capacity we will construct other green houses in Selibe Phikwe on the land President Khama promised us,” says Hu.

The green house under construction will be made of glass, custom made from China. In it, Hu plans to have a restaurant that will serve as a place of relaxation for town people, while students can visit and learn about traditional and modern ways of doing agriculture. To succeed, Hu says they could use financial support.

Chinese donors

 Chinese farmers like Hu have taken up farming at a time when citizen farmers are dispirited. Kabelo Thari, of the Botswana Workcamps Association (BWA) is of the view that, “the climate change phenomenon has worsened Botswana’s unfriendly weather conditions, causing agricultural output to fall drastically in recent years.”

Before the Chinese took to direct farming, Chinese nationals and the Chinese Embassy often donated farming machinery like tractors, and availed funds to citizen farmers to acquire farm land when needed and even went as far as facilitating agricultural skills transfer.
Thari’s association is a beneficiary of the Chinese Association of Botswana’s financial support for agricultural projects.

Other than financial support given to them to establish a horticulture farm in Oodi village, the association availed leadership development training workshops to BWA members. “Unfortunately, our horticulture project did not bear fruit as the main challenge was pests, mainly termites,” he explains. Despite the failure, Thari and his team have not given up on the project, but hope the Chinese will continue assisting them so they realise their goal.

According to Statistics on Agricultural Produce with South Africa (SAPSA), collected between January and December 2017 by Statistics Botswana (SB), the country imported fruit juices worth over BWP178 million, but only made BWP950, 703.00 in export of the same product to South Africa (SA). Should farmers like Thari excel, Botswana would spend less on imports and export more for a change.

Overall, Statistics Botswana says over 80 percent of Botswana’s fresh produce comes from SA therefore Chinese people, like the Botswana government, would love to see Botswana become food sustainable, hence their active commitment in the ‘fight against poverty inequality and exclusion’ within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, focusing on the principle of “leaving no one behind.”

 Chinese advocates

While some like Hu Yan have taken to direct farming, others like Miles Nan who has also lived in Botswana for over two decades have established themselves as advocates of the development of the agricultural sector with the hope to see Botswana desist from importing food.

“Last week I went to Jiangsu Province in China. While there I visited a university and inquired on their ways of doing agriculture. I wanted technology on developing a new model of maize which does not need too much water and can survive Botswana’s climatic conditions. After consultations the professors there said they could help,” Miles reveals elated.

 Should his efforts bear fruit, Botswana will spend less money on maize imports. Last year alone according to Statistics Botswana’s SAPSA, the country spent BWP10, 296, 729. 87 on maize seeds imports from SA, in turn making only BWP294, 975. 00 from exports of the same to SA. The seeds where meant to ensure the country produces its own maize meal as it spends millions buying from SA. Last year BWP23, 775, 698.00 was spent on maize meal imports from SA, and only BWP6, 996, 754.00 was gained from exporting maize meal to SA.

 Miles is the Founding Director of a company called Mileage Air, a company he founded in 1999 driven by the desire to afford Botswana mechanical construction services. At present Mileage Air is the sole agent of GREE air-conditioning in Botswana.
In 2009, Miles invested into yet another passion, venturing into the media. His media company, other than running a newspaper, offers events management services.

One event that’s of interest to the discussion at hand is his Africa China Agricultural Cooperation and Development Summit. Through this event Miles advocates for the development of agricultural industries in Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Egypt and Morocco.  “Our first event ever was held last year in Zambia after we failed to have it in Botswana. Subsequently, we held the second one in August last year in Zimbabwe. Over a hundred people attended. We had invited professors and entrepreneurs from China, and discussions centred on technological development and cooperation,” says Miles.

The first 2018 summit will be held in May in South Africa, to be followed by small seminars in Botswana and Namibia. Besides the 2030 Agenda, Miles’ actions are in tune with African countries’ committed to implement the African Union Agenda 2063, which is both a vision and a plan to build a more prosperous Africa in 50 years.

 “In August we will have similar events targeting Zambia and Kenya, and in October we do Egypt and Morocco,” elucidates the man who believes that to advance in the sector Botswana needs to capitalise on technology so that it can create models of plants that can survive the country’s temperatures. He said Botswana should design farm implements which suit its weather conditions.

Chinese networks

One manufacturer that is delighted by his custom-made equipment from China is Michael Hallam. “Our organic capacity before China was 5 000 tonnes per year. After China came on board the capacity of our granulation plant rose to 30 000 tonnes. Meaning 25 000 extra,” says Hallam, the Managing Director of the Organic Fertilizer Manufacturers Botswana company based in Mmamashia village. Hallam established his company in 2011, following his employment with a local feedlotting company.

“I saw mountains and mountains of manure lying around. Often I used the manure to grow crops that I then fed to animals. So naturally when I left my job I decided to put cow dung and poultry manure to good use rather than let it go to waste as it had been,” he says. His association with manure dates back to his childhood when he observed his grandfather use manure on his fields. The impact that organic fertiliser had on his grandfather’s plants never left him. At university in 1979 he wrote a thesis on the use of manure in cropping production.

When establishing his company in partnership with colleagues from Zimbabwe, Hallam saw an opportunity not only to live a dream, but one to encourage climate change mitigation. His desires would not have been realised without a Chinese company called Qingdao Seawinner Machinery and Engineering.  “The first machinery we acquired was from India, when using it we found out that it was not appropriate for our requirements,” shares Hallam.

Fortunately for him he had spent eighteen months in China a few years before. When he found himself in desperate need of custom-made machinery, he took advantage of the networks he had created and located a company that made him a happy man.  “I found Qingdao very professional. They shipped equipment and sent two engineers to come and assist with installing. We have not had issues with our machinery since installation in 2016,” he says.Hallam produces fertilizers like the Kalahari and the Neem eco organic by mixing manure with enriching products from India, Mexico, Europe and America.

The company invested in and installed a state of the art blending, coating and bagging plant with a capacity of 40 000 tons per annum, and a packing and sealing plant primarily for its organic products with a capacity of 20 000 tons per annum. With this massive investment and the granulating plant from china the company is well placed to cover all of Botswana’s fertilizer requirements and become a major exporter of products into the region.

Sixteen products are already registered in Botswana. Seven of these products are 100 percent organic. Hallam has already started selling his products in South Africa and Zimbabwe.   “As the only registered fertilizer manufacturing company in Botswana, we are removing a problem from the environment while creating direct and indirect employment. Cow dung releases methane into the sky,” he says. Adding that, people are now going back to using organic fertiliser instead of chemical fertilizers which have since contaminated ground and surface water resources, and increased salinity of soils, almost wiping out a reasonable population of bees crucial for pollination across the globe.

With the contribution of the Chinese, Botswana seems to be making strides in the right direction. The Botswana Government is looking to reduce its reliance on imports and therefore fully supports local developments. When fully realised, hunger will be a thing of the past in this upper middle income country.

The irony of this being that for every undernourished person there are now two overweight people in the world. This work was produced as a result of a grant provided by the Africa-China Reporting Project managed by the Journalism Department of the University of the Witwatersrand.

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Government ignores nurses’ COVID-19 anxieties

4th August 2021
Nurses

Health workers are at the front line fighting the deadly, contagious COVID-19. These workers have an immense challenge of welfare and government has since turned a blind eye to dares and crushing odds throttling health officers, particularly nurses.

Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) has once more called on government to invest in the country’s nurses and give the nursing profession dignity.

In May 2020, BONU President, Obonolo Rahube said government should, in line with the advocacy of World Health Organisation (WHO) invest more on nurses and midwives, and further advised government to address challenges that nurses are faced with. The proposal was made on International Nurses Day.

At the time, Rahube urged government to provide subsidised accommodation for nurses and midwives as it has emerged that during the fight against the Corona-virus, accommodation for nurses and midwives is very important. Rahube called on government to provide nurses and midwives with 100% medical cover.

He also called on government to introduce risk allowance for nurses and midwives, noting that as frontline workers during the pandemic, they are at high risk. Nurses also demanded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), a matter which they lost with costs in court. Also critical during the COVID-19 era for health workers, psychological support is what BONU maintains is still lacking.

In the same year (2020), the Union raised a number of other challenges they are being faced with. These challenges, they asserted, make it testing for them to undertake their duties, especially now that COVID-19 has shaken Botswana’s already weak health system.

BONU expressed disappointment at nurses’ pay, nurses who tested positive for COVID-19 at an alarming rate, violence against nurses, nurses’ contracts which were never renewed and a poorly coordinated vaccination plan for health workers.

Clearly, nurses are not only battling the COVID-19 virus, but also government who has since refused to come to the party.

This week once again, BONU tested waters and slammed government with more demands, some of which have turned into an everyday song while COVID-19 continues to kill more nurses.

At a press conference on Tuesday, BONU President Rahube said over 800 nurses have been infected with COVID-19. Of this number, 34 nurses lost their lives due to COVID-19 related infections.

WHO and other health experts say for countries to emerge victorious from the COVID-19 pandemic, they must fast-track the roll out of vaccine. In Botswana, there is no clear explanations of how the vaccination plan is going.

The situation around vaccination is chaotic, and this is evidenced by only 28% of nurses who have been vaccinated. President Mokgweetsi Masisi is also disturbed by the COVAX programme as Botswana vaccines arrive in the country missing, every time.

Debates in Parliament on which vaccine to adopt are failing to conclude, in fact, they never gained energy. Rahube told members of the media that nurses are overworked.

“Shortage of nurses puts those available at risk. Some nurses are on isolation, quarantine and some passed on. Nurses do both testing and contact tracing so they end up working stretched hours, at times from 6am to 10pm. There is no how nurses will be able to deliver while exhausted,” he said.

He further indicated that infection control practitioners are not recognised and deployed appropriately, and some regions have shortage of commodities and supplies such as water resistant gowns (nurses are forced to re-use those availed), masks, gloves, scrubs and uniforms.

Oxygen supply is said to be in shortage, something that mounts COVID-19 deaths.

“Patients lose their lives whilst still awaiting to be put on oxygen. Psychological services are in serious need as nurses continue to lose their significant others, faced with resource constraints and many of them are not vaccinated,” said Rahube.

Accommodation still remains a huge challenge for nurses. BONU President said nurses overcrowd with families and colleagues.

In Kauxwi, four nurses share a single house, in Moshaweng two nurses share a single bedroomed house together with their families, with no electricity yet the village is powered. In Kazungula, there are only two staff houses for 11 nurses and their families.

The union stressed that the Chief Nursing Officer is not coming to the party, and the expectation is that the office should be coordinating all nursing issues at the Health Ministry. Rahube indicated that transfers have been frozen, promotions stalled and they continue to lose nursing posts to other Ministries.

In a number of recommendations, BONU urged government to consider compensation and risk allowance for staff affected by COVID-19 related deaths and those infected. “COVID-19 has been declared an occupational health illness, in essence, the employer should facilitate its occupational health division, and there are lots of occupational health nurses who are wrongly deployed, who could be running such programs at the facilities.”

In regard to vaccinations, BONU underlined that there should be clear information relating to vaccines and they should be made accessible. “Local franchise manufacturing of vaccine could use Botswana Vaccines Institute (BVI) and government should be clear and transparent concerning procurement of vaccines. It should also allow stakeholders with capacities of procuring vaccines to do so.”

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Gov’t reforms public procurement

4th August 2021
-Masisi-Serame

Government is moving swiftly to completely overhaul public procurement — a new Bill has been tabled before Parliament this week by Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame and is scheduled for debate in the coming days of the current parliament sitting. 

Through this Bill the country’s purse bearer seeks to dismantle existing public procurement pieces of legislation, transform, merge and form a new public procurement arrangement. The existing public procurement high command base — the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPDB) would cease to exist.

This organisation will transition and assume the reigns of a regulator and oversight authority; the actual procurement; floating of tenders, accepting bids, adjudicating and awarding tenders will be fully taken over by Government departments accounting officers.

Accounting officers are Permanent Secretaries and statutory organisation heads and directors or any person who is responsible for the administration and day-to-day management of the affairs of a procuring entity, and any other person, who may be designated as such by the Minister under the act.

Speaking to this Bill this week, Serame revealed that the current Public Procurement and Asset Disposal arrangement will be merged with the local authority’s procurement Act.

“We will now have procurement under one roof, all overseen by accounting officers, it’s all government money coming from one port,” she said.

Minister Serame explained that PPADB will no longer be player and referee at the same time, with a view to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the regulation and management of public procurement processes.

According to Minister Serame, the new public procurement Act will promote competition among suppliers and contractors, and also provide for the fair, equal and equitable treatment of all suppliers and contractors.

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT REGULATORY AUTHORITY 

Should parliament pass this bill the current Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) will transition into a new body called Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.

The new Authority will be  mandated with setting standards and practices for the public procurement system, regulate and control the public procurement system, ensure the application of fair, equitable, competitive, transparent, accountable, efficient, non-discriminatory, honest, value for money and public confidence in procurement standards and practices.

Furthermore the Authority will monitor and enforce compliance with the new Act and any relevant law by a procuring entity.

For standardization and  ensuring of world class procurement best practices the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority will  monitor, assess, review and report on the performance of the public procurement system to the Minister and advise on desirable changes, and further issue standardized bidding documents to all procuring entities

This oversight and procurement regulator will conduct periodic inspections of the records and proceedings of a procuring entity to ensure compliance with the Act.

The regulator will institute periodically, in respect of any procurement —a procurement audit during a tender process, a contract audit in the course of execution of an awarded tender, a performance audit after the completion of a contract, and an investigation at any stage of a procurement process.

The Authority will continue to keep and maintain an up-to-date register of contractors, known as the “Contractors’ Register”, in works, services and supplies, or any combination thereof, however classified.

The new Public Procurement Regulatory Authority will be governed by a board of nine (9) non-executive directors appointed by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.

The Public Procurement Board will be charged with directing the affairs of the Authority. Day to day executive activities of the Public Procurement Authority will be run by a Chief Executive Officer who will be appointed by the Minister on the recommendation of the board.

PROCURING ENTITIES AND ACCOUNTING OFFICERS 

The actual procurement will now be handled by the Accounting Officers who will lead their procuring entities. The entities will consist of the procurement oversight unit, a procurement unit, an ad hoc Evaluation Committee, the user Department; or any other appropriate structure put in place by the Government.

The Accounting Officer will be in charge of establishment of appropriate procurement structures to undertake the procurement functions under the new act, which shall be staffed at an appropriate level in line with the model structure issued by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.

The Accounting Officer will also be charged with establishment, as may be prescribed, of a committee within a procuring entity which will oversee procurement activities, establishment, as may be prescribed, of an oversight committee to monitor procurement activities in a procuring entity.

The primary role of the Accounting Officers will be adjudication and award of tenders, including the adjudication of a bid recommendation submitted to him/her through a procurement oversight unit.

The Accounting officer will have powers to cancel a tender process and reject a tender offer at any time prior to entering into a contract, in the manner as may be prescribed, and the Accounting Officer shall not compensate the bidder of a tender that has been cancelled.

Under this proposed Act new set of regulations and guidelines will direct procurement complaints and appeals.

COMPLAINTS & TENDER DISPUTES

A procuring entity  will, after the publication of an award decision — allow a cooling-off period of 10 days in order for the procuring entity to receive and address complaints, if any, from any contractor who is aggrieved by the award decision; and not enter into a contract relating to the award before the expiration of a cooling period.

A contractor who is aggrieved by a breach of any provision of this Act or claims to have suffered or is likely to suffer loss or damages due to a breach of a duty imposed on a procuring entity shall, at the first instance, lodge a complaint before an Accounting Officer for review.

A contractor who lodges a complaint shall have the right to participate in the review proceedings before an Accounting Officer. A contractor who fails to participate in the review proceedings shall be barred from subsequently lodging the same complaint.

Under this proposed Act an Accounting Officer will not entertain a complaint after a contract has entered into force. After considering a complaint and determining that the complaint is a frivolous or vexatious complaint, Accounting Officer shall dismiss such complaint.

Notwithstanding subsection (1), an Accounting Officer may refer a complaint considered and determined to be frivolous or vexatious to the Tribunal for the Tribunal to take any appropriate action as may be prescribed.

An aggrieved person shall submit his or her complaint in writing to an Accounting Officer within 10 days from the date of the publication of an award decision by the Accounting Officer, relating to the complaint.

The Accounting Officer will not entertain a complaint unless it is submitted to him/her within the period referred to under subsection.

A contractor who is aggrieved by a decision of an Accounting Officer may appeal to the Tribunal within 14 days from the date of the decision of the Accounting Officer.

Where a contract has been concluded by a procuring entity, based on an award decision of an Accounting Officer, the contract shall be irrevocable and its execution shall proceed without interruption whether the award decision by the Accounting Officer may in itself remain disputable by a contractor through the Tribunal.

Notwithstanding subsection (5), the Tribunal may suspend and subsequently revoke or terminate the execution of a contract if in the opinion of the Tribunal, sufficient evidence has been adduced to demonstrate that the execution of the contract may cause substantial loss to the public revenue or prejudicially affect public interest.

A complainant who wishes to lodge a complaint shall exhaust the dispute resolution processes provided in this Act before the complainant refers the complaint to a court.

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT TRIBUNAL 

The Tribunal will be a body established independently from Public Procurement Regulatory Authority, and shall constitute retired High Court judges or practicing attorneys who qualify to appoint high court judge.

The Tribunal shall adjudicate over any matter brought before it by a complainant for a breach of any of the provisions of this Act, or any appeal brought in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

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COVID-19 hits hard on BITC

4th August 2021
BITC

The COVID-19 pandemic which weakened world economies had left a devastating impact on Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) existence in 2020. According to the group’s 2019/2020 Annual Report, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was sluggish for the first two quarters at P126 million and P426.96 million respectively. They then took an upward trajectory in Q3 and 4 at P1396 million and P1456 million respectively.

The year closed with a reduced performance at 73% for Q4. According to the financial report, export earnings opened the year at 83% which is approximately P671 million, before dropping to 81% (P1299.55 million). However, Quarter 3 experienced a slight rise in performance to 82%, or P1978.42 million before a drop in performance to close Quarter 4 at P74.9%, which was P2403.91 million.

Even if that is the case, the Centre continued to promote local investors by facilitating for local entrepreneurs to produce and find markets for their products both locally and internationally. The trend for Domestic Investment/Expansions indicated a continual upward performance surge from Quarter 1 through Quarter 4.

In percentage points, performance results reflected opening of 93% performance followed by a dip in performance to 82% Quarter 2, and then an increase to 100% in Quarter 3 and closing performance of 84.2% in Quarter 4.

For this financial year under review, BITC posted solid financial results with a surplus of P872.968, representing a decline from the previous year’s surplus of P13.991.337. The Centre started on track from the beginning of the financial year with successful execution of activities planned for the year.

However, following the subsequent onset of COVID-19 in the last quarter for the financial year, a few of the activities were negatively affected resulting from restricted cross border transfers. The impact is expected to be severe in the following financial year, especially on the Centre’s financial statements, clearly reflecting the negative impact of COVID-19.

In the financial year ended March 2020, BITC received a total subvention of P96.504.860 which represents a 5% decrease from the previous year’s subvention of P101.830.560. the Grant subvention received for the past 5 years has not been constant due to the financial constraints that the government has experienced over the years which prompted for alignment of financial resources to cover the Centre’s strategic imperatives.

For the year under review BITC’s annual FDI capital inflows realised stood at P1.456 billion against an annual target of P2 billion, which is largely attributable to more than expected performance from the Financial Services sector. The total Domestic Investment for the period was P875.5 million against the set stretched target of P952 million. The total number of jobs registered by the organisation during the year under review was 3329, against an annual target of 3340.

BITC ACHIEVEMENTS

Notwithstanding that, BITC realised high level achievements for the year under review. Chief Executive Officer Keletsositse Olebile said facilitated to establish the Selibe-Phikwe citrus project, which has a job creation expectation of 1000 vacancies as well as the expansion of Kromberg and Shubert Company through the allocation of land for construction of 7000 square metres factory to manufacture wire harness for Mercedes Benz, with over 800 jobs expected this year.

Further, the Centre continued to deliver improved investor facilitation services to both local and foreign investors through the Botswana one Stop service centre (BOSSC). “BOSSC houses relevant government departments under one roof to provide prompt, efficient and transparent services to investors. The services offered by this Centre have grown from slightly above 130 applications for government authorisation in 2013 to 752 in the year under review,” said Olebile.

BITC continued to monitor Botswana’s performance in global competitiveness indicators such as the World Bank’s ease of Doing Business Index. “In an endeavour to improve the investor facilitation mechanism in the country, we have motivated for the drafting of a Business Facilitation Law, which will expedite the setting up and operations of businesses in Botswana.”

ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION DRIVE

BITC continued to respond to government’s call to stimulate direct investment and growth of local companies by procuring goods and services from locally based manufactures and services providers. The message to promote locals to actively grow the national economy has been driven through campaigns such as ‘PushaBW’ which utilised an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) approach. As at March 2020, local purchases constituted 84% (2019:85%) of the total procurement with foreign purchases at 16% (2019:15%).

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