It is trade platforms like the Global Expo that the country looks to in its drive to diversify the economy. If economic diversification efforts are to bear fruit, the Global Expo remains a critical platform from which new businesses will be hatched and domesticated. This is marketplace of goods and all possible tradeables that can be exhibited. Business matching platforms that the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has launched and run at this Expo are a wise and important intervention that leads to start of new businesses and partnerships that enhances business.
It is this Expo that demonstrates the serious efforts that are being placed in diversifying the economy. Botswana can no longer afford to be a diamonds driven economy. Recent experiences with the depreciated demand of the commodity have brought the full reality of the risks this entails. The theme of the Expo, “Promoting economic diversification through export-oriented foreign investment and domestic expansion” is apt in buttressing what we should focus on and take to the next level. We need foreign investors. And with a limited market we should look more to the region for the goods we produce.
Domestic expansion is of paramount importance. However, all these can work if we increase the Easiness of Doing Business in this country. It is for this reason that pronouncements by the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi that the Government is rolling out the implementation of the Doing Business Roadmap that includes reducing bureaucracy, and abolishing business unfriendly laws is a highly welcomed development. We need as a country to put our best foot forward and reduce anything that could make us lose out in the high stakes battle of luring Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Each country is doing its best to win over investors and any country that takes things for granted loses out. As a country we are increasingly being labeled as anti-foreigners and the number of work permits and VISA declined does not paint a good picture. While we agree that the security of the country should not be compromised by allowing criminals and terrorists to enter and go as they wish, we should nevertheless allow those who can help transform the economy through skills and investment in the country.
We cannot afford to isolate ourself and even in the process turn down the much needed investment. The drive for economic diversification will require more than what we are currently offering and hence we need to scale up in all our efforts.