The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) will this year host the tenth edition of its premier business to business (B2B) multi -sectorial expo known as the Global Expo Botswana from 31st October – 3rd November 2017 in Gaborone. The Expo will be hosted under the theme “Unlocking opportunities for Economic Growth.”
The internationally recognized event, endorsed by government through the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) on average, mobilizes between 200 and 5000 exhibitors and visitors yearly. The exhibitors are usually from the Agro-industries, Textiles and garments, Information Technology and Mining sectors. According to officials at the Botswana Investment Trade Center Preparations for the Global Expo Botswana 2017 started when the 2016 Global Expo Botswana ended.
Itumeleng Teseletso, an executive in the department of Corporate Communications at BITC shared with WeekendPost that this was important as it helped retain the previous exhibitors and attract new exhibitors well in time. “Currently, preparations are at around 90% completion rate. We are putting together the final finishing touches to the logistics of hosting this big event,” she said.
According to the organizers interest to be a delegate at the Investment Conference grows annually. Itumeleng said this interest is mostly catalyzed by the profile of speakers BITC brings to the Conference. “This year, we are expecting at least 500 delegates from Botswana and abroad. We are expecting at least 200 exhibitors, half of that being local and the rest from various parts of the world.”
Global Expo Botswana is a major trade and investment platform that offers an exciting opportunity to do business in one of Southern Africa’s and Africa’s most stable and fastest growing economies, given the geographical centrality of Botswana in the SADC region. This year, the Global Expo is playing host to international exhibitors, conference delegates and business visitors from over 20 countries being; South Africa, India, USA, Sweden, Croatia, Japan, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Kenya, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Indonesia, Turkey, Sweden, France, Nigeria and South Korea.
Since its inception in 2008 the Global Expo has contributed in driving the mandate of BITC, MITI and the country’s economic development and diversification agenda. The total cumulative value of business transacted between participating business entities at the Global Expo Botswana since inception in 2006 exceeds P500 million.
In 2008, a USA company, Gemological Institute of America participated and ended up setting up office to train diamond sorters in Botswana. In 2009, South African companies participated and opened sister companies in Botswana namely LAS Botswana, supplying safety clothing to the mining industry and GENTAG Botswana supplying generator sets. In 2010, Poland Company, XL Energy participated and set up a distributor outlet for energy drinks. Another South African company, Continental Generators also participated and set up a sister company here, namely Generators Botswana supplying generator sets.
The 2011 edition saw another South African Company called Sifikile participating and later setting up a sister company, supplying décor concrete products. Last year‘s exposition saw Enoch Lubricants from Dubai participating and BITC revealed to this publication that the former is in the process of setting up in Botswana. “Also in 2016, a Brazilian furniture and wooden products manufacturer took part in GEB and is in the process of setting up here. This company already has manufacturing plants in Angola and Mozambique, as well as West African Prefos Ghana which formed a Joint Venture called Prefos Botswana with a local company to manufacture LED street lights.’’
This year’s Global Expo will be officially opened by Vice President Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi on the morning of Tuesday 31st October 2017 at Boipuso Hall in the Fairgrounds, Gaborone. Immediately after the official opening ceremony, His Honour the Vice President will embark on a tour of the GEB 2017 exhibition stalls. Thereafter, the 2017 Botswana Investment & Trade Conference will commence.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”