The Chairman of the Board of Botswanan Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Victor Jakopo Senye has reiterated the “urgent need” for Botswana to formulate a business facilitation law.
He says the law will ensure that government’s regulatory framework, as far as it affects business, is put up in a speedy fashion. Senye says the law is critical if Botswana is to remain relevant in the competitive global landscape. Writing in the 2015/16 financial year report, Senye warns that Botswana is increasingly experiencing stiff competition from other countries for foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as export market share for local products.
“We must be mindful that we are increasingly losing ground to some of the emerging economies and this is a significant concern. We therefore need to realise as a country that we are in competition with other countries and that a conducive business environment is no longer a nice-to-have but rather a priority,” says Senye. In fact, the World Investment Report 2016 shows that FDI flows into Africa fell to $54 billion in 2015, a decrease of 7 percent from the previous year with the top five FDI recipient economies being Angola, Egypt, Mozambique, Morocco and Ghana.
BITC Chief Executive Letsebe Sejoe buttresses the point by showing that their targeted investment promotion efforts in the year under review resulted in a total capital investment of P3.12 billion. Of this value, FDI companies contributed P1.4 billion while domestic investments made P1.25bn and business expansions added P377.05 million to realise a total employment of 1, 703 jobs.
At 58 percent the financial services sector was the largest contributor to the investment realised alongside other sectors such as Mining, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Property, Tourism and Transport and logistics. Sejoe says the companies that invested were from South Africa, India, Canada, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and China.
Senye also spells a haunting message that Botswana can “unfortunately” no longer rely on its competitive advantage of being a ‘beacon of democracy in Africa’, as many countries have realised that without democracy, it is nearly impossible to compete effectively in the global space and hence this has become a priority for the majority.
“Our competitors are going through these democratisation processes and equally looking at how to improve the way they do business,” he says. The report however shows an increase in the value of exports at P2bn as a result of companies benefiting from the assistance BITC offers in securing new export markets in the region and abroad. Sejoe says the export value was contributed by 44 BITC client companies exporting 36 product lines.
He adds that markets penetrated by the local products during the period include Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Hong Kong and the European Union. Senye says in addition to a business facilitation law Botswana must strengthen the “One Stop Shop” concept and provide supporting legislation to render it effective. During the year under review BITC’s Business Facilitation Services Centre realised an increase in the demand for facilitation services compared to authorisations processed in the previous year. Sejoe says this signifies the difficult business environment that companies experience when they proceed on their own.
And to mitigate this, BITC’s advocacy for a conducive business environment continued through increased strategic stakeholder engagement including the signing of Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) with five (5) Government Departments to streamline various Government authorisations including the acquisition of manufacturing and industrial licenses for BITC assisted investors.