The German Development Cooperation (GIZ) in collaboration with Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association are identifying companies to assist in upscaling their production. “GIZ CESARE has shown interest in supporting companies in the SADC region that produce relevant medical equipment such as sanitisers, gloves, gowns, masks, oxygen flasks and ventilators to increase the local production with the hope that this will help address the worldwide shortage of said medical supplies and facilitate access for the SADC region,” said BEMA Chief Executive Officer, Mmantlha Sankoloba.
BEMA has submitted over 40 local manufacturing companies, mostly SMMEs to GIZ for consideration. “But it has been noted that we do not have companies that locally produce surgical masks and ventilators,” said Sankoloba, whose association is faced with a mammoth task of ensuring businesses survive and grow during and post the pandemic.
She said the Association is lobbying government to have holistic consultations with the private sector before strategies are implemented at national level. “It is time to take a different approach, there is no other alternative but to have both the public and private sector coalesce and synergise their efforts to ensure the sector does not suffer a decline,” said Sankoloba.
She said the sector has been faced with numerous issues, even before the pandemic, however, over the past weeks there has been a record on new cases arising from the effects of the COVID-19. For example, manufacturers have recorded a decline in turnover and revenue due to increase in expenditure, according to Sankoloba.
“At this juncture it is important for both the private (all sectors represented) and public sector to work together, establish common ground and come up with sound solutions. It is important to consider offering much-needed support to businesses that will be largely affected by the pandemic, either from a financing perspective or ease of operations through provision of incentives that will ensure adequate working capital availability,” said Sankoloba. She emphasised that it is lucrative to ensure the survival of manufacturing entities, as they have created job opportunities.
Local economy players are exponentially warming up to the buzz as technology continues to drive the world’s 4th industrial revolution.Though dialogue on technology has been part of the economy for a long time, the story line is fast gaining traction. Stakeholders are now pinning their hope on digitalised economy. More calls are coming from both within government and private sector to absorb and leverage on technology.
“We need to plug in and realise the results of trading and living in a global village,” said Mmantlha Sankoloba, Botswana Export Manufacturers Association (BEMA) Chief Executive Officer. BEMA hopes that ‘e- gov’ strategy intentions to move all appropriate government services online for greater quality and convenience will happen soon.Sankoloba said the integration of digital data, will allow citizens or businesses to access most government services at any locality, online through mobile phones and personal commuters.
“This will, hopefully, end the absurdity of citizens and businesses having to travel vast distances, or shuffle between different ministries and departments, to access basic services,” said Sankoloba,
However, Sankoloba also challenged the nation to improve the business environment through re-engineering its processes.“As BEMA, we hold the view that the use of technology will not yield the desired results if we do not introspect and ascertain that our processes are customer centric,” said Sankoloba.Commenting on the digital industrialisation, Rosinah Bontsi, acting deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Investment Trade and Industry said the era has ushered in new opportunities for entrepreneurs to access new markets and to join global value chains.
“Jobs are being created and new business models are emerging,” said Bontsi adding that some economies have benefited from widely adopting electronic commerce and digital trade.She said digital industrialisation has emerged as a major driver and enabler of innovation, economic transformation and development. “The pace of digitilisation and technology has come at an accelerated speed, and bringing new risks and challenges for those that lack the capabilities to compete in the digital economy,” said Bontsi. Bonsti said the local economy needs to ensure that the digital economy is truly inclusive. “We need to have a clear idea of where we are and where we want to go,” she said.
Her remarks were echoed by Botswana Innovation Hub’s (BIH) Director of Marketing and Partnership, Tshepo Tsheko emphasising that the world has seen the value in digital. “Everyone is talking digital, any business that is not moving into digital, in the not so distant future will be out of business,” said Tsheko.BIH is on record announcing its intentions to make digitisation BIH’s flagship project through sustainable partnership with several stakeholders. Meanwhile Tsheko said both government and private sector have to embrace youth who live and breathe technology in the efforts to compete on the global 4th industrial revolution.