The first annual job summit was a success. It was a success in a sense that it gave a platform to business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry experts to discuss ways of creating jobs. But all the brilliant suggestions from panellists and participants were nothing new. It was a talk we have all heard often.
In fact I have written before that people know what needs to be done in reviving the economy so it could accommodate the unemployed. Talking and doing are two different things, what we fail to achieve is to implement all the brilliant ideas.
But it was the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s remarks that really made me wonder if he really understands the true nature of the country’s problems. This country’s problems run deeper, as they have been long in the making. The vice president remarked that the government has done enough to facilitate for the private sector to create jobs. On the surface he is correct, but on deeper inspection, the government has not only failed the private sector but citizens who dream of better lives. I will explain.
It goes without saying that Batswana are no longer hopeful about their future prospects. The economy is still dependent on diamonds, government has put a freeze on hiring, and salary increments haven’t been inspiring, the lethargic relationship between the private media and government, the dysfunctional politics, unemployed graduates, water and power crisis and the ever rising cost of living.
Indeed, it would appear that the realization that Botswana is no longer the land of opportunity that it has long claimed to be. To be sure, Botswana has many opportunities that are yet to be explored and enjoyed by the majority of citizens. But it is the economic inequality that has left so many dejected. They wonder why there is no longer trickledown economics anymore. Despite their hardwork and contributions, they are not getting their fair slice of the pie.
The things that they are told to be grateful for, free education and free health, are equally failing them. They have to endure long queues in hospitals and clinics and only to find out that the doctor is not there or their medications is not in the inventory. The pride and joy of receiving a degree has been replaced by nervousness as they contemplate what to make of their lives.
Batswana have become fearful and distrustful of the government. They doubt the government’s commitment towards them, when they speak of the government they do so in hushed tones lest they get sidelined in sharing the pie. Whether this fear is justified or not, is neither here nor there. It’s not exactly as if the government itself inspires trust and renewed hope. In fact the government has allowed for this fear and distrust to continue unabated. But we need to talk about this.
We should be having a deep debate on the growing inequality that threatens to tear our society. Inequality of opportunity has become pervasive, so has corruption both in the private and public sector. In terms of inequality, it’s like we have a two tier economy, for them and for us. The same could be said about the courts of law. We live in disparate worlds of economic freedom.
It hasn’t always been like this. Those who have seen the golden era of Botswana’s economy look back to those days with great fondness. That Botswana era had been exciting; it was the darling and envy of neighbouring countries. There was a powerful sense of belonging, people could actually see their lives improving for the better. They had hope and on equal measure they could pin those hopes in their children to be successful. But that era is gone. The Botswana of today has become a cash cow. Money seems to be the only thing that matters.
People who prized developing the country and improving the quality of life of every citizen are being sidelined; they have been replaced by the ones that are more ruthless in the individualistic pursuits. They are cutting deals and looking out for themselves. They are consumed with avarice.
The private sector cannot create jobs given the prevailing circumstances. Those who are affected mostly are the youth, as the vice president rightly pointed out. Tenders have killed the innovative entrepreneur, he has been replaced by the tenderpreneur who is looking out on fleecing the government.
After all one can instantly become rich through tenders, but that wealth accumulation does not trickle down to the majority of citizens. Needless to say, the business of tenders is not sustainable in the long run. But the greatest danger lies in the citizenry resigning to the fact the only way to make it is through tenders.
The proliferation of briefcase companies that get millions of pula through tenders, yet do little in terms of expanding to build sustainable companies has done little to create employment. It’s shocking when the government encourages such behaviour, even encouraging people to engage in these get rich quick schemes.
Those with strong connections to the government and private businesses wield so much power. They are the ones that control the flow of capital, they disregard laws and ethics all in pursuit of personal gains. Thomas Piketty, the controversial French economist, argues that the disparity between economic growth and investment growth, is the manifestation of inequality. Basically, Piketty is saying capital begets capital, on the same though chain, the rich will continue getting richer while the poor suffer.
We should never allow inequality to be the new normal, it’s not something that we can view as being inevitable. The government should come out strong against corruption, this could help in instilling hope amongst the citizens. The pursuit of money should never make us forget that we should coexist together, and that means acting honourably not gainfully. We need to reawaken the Botswana were hope filled the air, when people genuinely believed that if they work hard enough they will make it in life.
Newly established wholly indigenous citizen owned retail chain Payless Retail (PTY) Ltd is set to partake in the first session of Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)’s Tshipidi Mentorship Program (TMP) on Monday June 29th.
The TMP aims to train and capacitate SMEs so they can operate as corporates and eventually list on the local bourse. According to local bourse, BSE, the program aims to provide practical training to potential issuers through a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
Payless Retail is a newly established supermarket chain whose mission is to become a convenient one-stop shopping destination as it is one of the Botswana oldest retailing brands. It started off as Corner Supermarket in January 1976, and to date boasts of nine stores in, among others, Gaborone, Mochudi, Molepolole and Tlokweng. Payless was recently acquired by Ellis Retail Group, which is led by businessman Elliot Moshoke.
The takeover catapulted Ellis Retail to the envious position of being the first wholly indigenous owned major retail chain. “We jumped at this opportunity because it gave us a chance to prove to Batswana that the retail business is open and lucrative.”
The objective is to create a proudly Botswana retail chain that fully supports our national Vision, economic development and citizen economic empowerment ambitions,” Moshoke told BusinessPost.
He further emphasized that Batswana are capable and able to run large scale businesses hence they need to accept invite foreign investors who will come in to support us not take the business. “Our win as Payless in the Fast Moving Consumer goods (FMCG) industry is a win for Batswana. We need their support in this difficult and challenging journey.
As you are aware, Payless is the only retail chain in the hands of Batswana ba Sekei. We need to take advantage of this to generate employment and create small businesses in retail and Agri businesses,” he explained.
The retailer has also partnered with Botswana Investment & Trade Center (BITC) on their #PushaBW campaign with a view to initiating earnest engagement with local producers to iron out bottlenecks and ensure seamless trading.
“Local producers have to be part of the phenomenal growth of the Payless brand. This will in turn facilitate employment creation and economic growth. We did this because we have the utmost respect for local manufacturers and producers,” he mentioned.
Payless is currently restocking all of its stores; a development that Moshoke says is testament to the retailer’s commitment to growing the brand and ensuring continuity of business. He further revealed that renowned retail suppliers like PST and CA Sales have reignited their trust in Payless, opening their doors for Payless as they have faith in the retailer’s new owners.
The takeover has reportedly saved more than 200 jobs and gave a new lease of life to the previously fledging Payless brand. According to a press release from the management team, the Payless work forces are also extremely excited about what the future holds. The TMP is a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
The program is administered by experts within the listing ecosystem and seeks to bring the potential issuers closer to the listings advisers, investors and leaders of already listed companies. “As a strategic initiative, the BSE decided to set up this mentorship program in a bid to assist SMEs to strategize, corporatize and acclimatize in order to list to access equity finance and expand operations,” said the BSE.
The TMP will avail to SMEs practical insights, knowledge and feedback from institutional investors, increased awareness of the BSE listing requirements as well as an intimate network of advisors and CEOs of listed companies. After training, Payless will graduate with improve governance structures and better knowledge of articulating its business strategy. The retailer will also gain increased visibility through BSE marketing platforms.
Despite Covid-19 interrupting trade worldwide, exporting companies in Botswana which benefited from the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) services realised P2.96 billion in export earnings during the period from April 2020 to March 2021.
In the preceding financial year, the sale of locally manufactured products in foreign markets had registered export revenue of P2, 427 billion against a target of P3, 211 billion BITC, which celebrates 10 years since establishment, continues to carry out several initiatives targeted towards expanding the Botswana export base in line with Botswana’s desire to be an export led economy, underpinned by a robust export promotion programme in line with the National Export Strategy.
The main products exported were swamp cruiser boats, pvc tanks and pvc pipes, ignition wiring sets, semi-precious stones, veterinary medicines, hair braids, coal, textiles (towels and t-shirts) and automobile batteries. These goods were destined mainly for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Austria, Germany, and Namibia.
With Covid-19 still a problem, BITC continues to roll out targeted virtual trade promotion missions across the SADC region with a view to seeking long-lasting market opportunities for locally manufactured products.
Recently, the Centre facilitated participation for Botswana companies at the Eastern Cape Development Council (ECDC) Virtual Export Symposium, the Botswana-Zimbabwe Virtual Trade Mission, the Botswana-Zambia Virtual Trade Mission, Botswana-South Africa Virtual Buyer/Seller Mission as well as the Botswana-Namibia Virtual Trade Mission.
BITC has introduced an e-Exporting programme aimed at assisting Botswana exporters to conduct business on several recommended e-commerce platforms. Due to the advent of COVID-19, BITC is currently promoting e-trade among companies through the establishment of e-commerce platforms and is assisting local companies to embrace digitisation by adopting e-commerce platforms to reach export markets as well as assisting local e-commerce platform developers to scale up their online marketplaces.
During the 2019/2020 financial year, BITC embarked on several initiatives targeted at growing exports in the country; facilitation of participation of local companies in international trade platforms in order to enhance export sales of local products and services into external markets.
BITC also helped in capacity development of local companies to compete in global markets and the nurturing of export awareness and culture among local manufacturers in order to enhance their skills and knowledge of export processes; and in development and implementation of trade facilitation tools that look to improve the overall ease of doing business in Botswana.
As part of building export capacity in 2019/20, six (6) companies were selected to initiate a process to be Organic and Fair Trade Certified. These companies are; Blue Pride (Pty) Ltd, Motlopi Beverages, Moringa Technology Industries (Pty) Ltd, Sleek Foods, Maungo Craft and Divine Morula.
In 2019 seven companies which were enrolled in the Botswana Exporter Development Programme were capacitated with attaining BOBS ISO 9001: 2015 certification. Three (3) companies successfully attained BOBS ISO 9001:2015 certification. These were Lithoflex (Pty) Ltd, General Packaging Industries and Power Engineering.
BITC’s annual flagship exhibition, Global Expo Botswana (GEB) to create opportunities for trade and strategic synergies between local and international companies. The Global Expo Botswana) is a premier business to business exposition that attracts FDI, expansion of domestic investment, promotion of exports of locally produced goods and services and promotion of trade between Botswana and other countries.
The portal also provides information on; measures, legal documents, and forms and procedures needed by Botswana companies that intend on doing business abroad. BITC continues to assist both potential and existing local manufacturing and service entities to realise their export ambitions. This assistance is pursued through the ambit of the Botswana Exporter Development Programme (BEDP) and the Trade Promotion Programme.
BEDP was revised in 2020 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a vision to developing a diversified export-based economy. The programme focuses mostly on capacitating companies to reach export readiness status.
Prices for goods and services in this country continue to increase, with the latest figures from Statistics Botswana showing that in May 2022, inflation rate rose to 11.9 percent from 9.6 percent recorded in April 2022.
According to Statistics Botswana update released this week, the largest upward contributions to the annual inflation rate in May 2022 came from increase in the cost of transport (7.2 percent), housing, water, electricity, gas & other Fuels (1.4 percent), food & non-alcoholic beverages (1.1 percent) and miscellaneous goods & services (0.8 percent).
With regard to regional inflation rates between April and May 2022, the Rural Villages inflation rate went up by 2.5 percentage points, from 9.6 percent in April to 12.1 percent in May 2022, according to the government owned statistics entity.
In the monthly update the entity stated that the Urban Villages inflation rate stood at 11.8 percent in May 2022, a rise of 2.4 percentage points from the April rate of 9.4 percent, whereas the Cities & Towns inflation rate recorded an increase of 1.9 percentage points, from 9.9 percent in April to 11.8 percent in May.
Commenting on the national Consumer Price Index, the entity stated that it went up by 2.6 percent, from 120.1 in April to 123.2 in May 2022. Statisticians from the entity noted that the transport group index registered an increase of 7.3 percent, from 134.5 in April to 144.2 in May, mainly due to the rise in retail pump prices for petrol and diesel by P1.54 and P2.74 per litre respectively, which effected on the 13th of May 2022.
The food & non-alcoholic beverages group index rose by 2.6 percent, from 118.6 in April 2022 to 121.6 in May 2022 and this came as a result of increase in prices of oils & fats, vegetables, bread & cereal, mineral waters, soft drinks, fruits & vegetables juices, fish (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen) and meat (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen), according to the Statisticians.
The Statisticians said the furnishing, household equipment & routine maintenance group index rose by 1.0 percent, from 111.6 in April 2022 to 112.7 in May 2022 and this was attributed to a general increase in prices of household appliances, glassware, tableware & household utensils and goods & services for household maintenance.
The prices for clothing & footwear group index moved from 109.4 to 110.4, registering a rise of 0.9 percent during the period under review. Bank of Botswana has projected higher inflation in the short term, associated with the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices and added that the possible increase in public service salaries could add also upward pressure to inflation in this country.