Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Keletsositse Olebile comes in at a time when the institution is formulating a fresh strategic plan.
This is one of the key assignments that the board has placed on him as the current strategic plan for the investment promotion agency expires on March 31, 2018.
Olebile, who assumed the position roughly two weeks ago on February 1, 2018 on acting basis, says his plans to take the institution forward will be directed, formulated and solidified through the strategic planning process.
One of the areas that he is keen on especially within the institution is the restoration of capacity so as to enable delivery on their mandate. The institution has experienced hiccups following internal processes that led to a realignment of the organisational structure.
This process took longer than anticipated and in the long run the institution lost key people in core departments. “One critical thing now is to rebuild these skills because the public out there is still expecting the institution to perform, and not excuses,” Olebile said in an interview, adding that they will be restoring capacity in the near future.
Another area of focus for the new BITC chief is a strong engagement with critical stakeholders. As much as BITC is a brand management entity, Olebile acknowledges that they can only achieve their mandate through the support and team spirit from various stakeholders.
“I can promote out there, but if someone lands in Botswana and the various supporting frameworks are not living up to the promises that I have made, it will amount to nothing,” he says, adding, “it is in our interest to really make sure that our various departments; immigration, labour, lands and others are well aligned in delivering on this promotion mandate.”
In addition, the business development strategist also believes that he has highly capable people in the institution’s three outreach offices in London, India and South Africa. “It is important to know that investment promotion at its best will not happen within the investment promotion agency alone, it is about the support you get from various sector champions that you have out there.”
His view is that with every targeted mission, there has to be a capacity back stock within the sector to relay the message. He strongly believes that it involves constituted and ready projects that sector champions can put forward to potential investors.
According to Olebile, the current challenge in the approach to investment promotion is the tendency to take the generic approach of talking about the country’s key attributes. His view is that over and above key attributes of a country, investors are interested in ready projects, even for tenders that they can get involved in.
“Where capacity is concerned we can always do better, but I derive confidence in the people we have,” he says. The business development strategist takes keen interest on facilitating an even distribution of investments across the country. According to him, this is a difficult challenge given the level of development and servicing in the different localities.
That is why the institution has been working with officials at local government to run projects like the Local Economic Development (LED).
This project is aimed at identifying potential opportunities in different localities of Botswana. “For example; an area like Tsabong has been identified as ideal for small stock, and our interest is in the key enablers,” Olebile says.
This has given birth to ideas like the establishment of small stock abattoirs. An area like Bobonong in the Selibe-Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) region has abundant semi-precious stones. BITC’s interest in such an area would be on enablers that would need to be put in place to allow the region to benefit from the already established diamond space because they are in the same value chain.
One of the critical focus areas for the former Executive Director of Strategy and Competitiveness at BITC and his team is to see how investment can be taken to these outlaying areas. “We can already see a sense of expectation through parliamentary questions that members are asking, like what we have done to facilitate investors to the different localities within the country,” he says.
Olebile is also happy that they have achieved some progress in some areas. The revamped one-stop-shop, Botswana One Stop Service Centre (BOSSC) is one such achievement. “We now have officers from Immigration sitting here (BITC premises) at senior level, from Lands, and liaison officers from various facilitating institutions. It’s a good start, and we will suggest improvements going forward.”
He also acknowledges that the establishment of such a centre is an evolving area with further developments in the pipeline. One of the key legal instruments that BITC has motivated for and has been approved by cabinet is the Business facilitation law – a piece of law that will define how various institutions that are responsible for investor facilitation are linked.
“We can refer to current structures of BOSSC as interim because it is an ever evolving arrangement. The ultimate will be when we reach and are able to offer services online. When our e-government interventions are in place and people do not need to come to the centre physically but we can deal with them on a visual approach.”
He wishes for a time when Botswana will ultimately position herself well in terms of the type of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that she is most likely to attract. “For us it has to be a balance of efficiency seeking FDI and resource seeking because we have natural resources in abundance. If we target well in that regard we can achieve something,” Olebile says.