COMMENTARY: Economy improving 

SHARE   |   Monday, 27 November 2017   |   By Ian Khama’s Speech
COMMENTARY: Economy improving 

As I indicated in the State of the Nation Address, the economy is on a positive trajectory, having grown by 4.3% in 2016 and projected to reach 4.7% in 2017 and 5.3% in 2018. This positive economic outlook is expected to be sustained by further improvements in the Mining, Trade, Hotels & Restaurants, Transport & Communication, and Water & Electricity sectors. Diamond production is also expected to increase, owing to recovery in global demand. Taking from this improvement, we can do more going forward to strengthen Botswana’s competitiveness as a destination for investment. I know and trust that a number of entities within the country are already doing their best to make Botswana a better place to live in and do business. Recently, the Botswana Police Service (BPS) did us proud by being assessed by the World International and Security Police Index (WISPI), to be the best on the African Continent. To demonstrate that rating issues are cross-cutting and indeed do correlate, Botswana has received increased international recognition as a premier destination of choice, reflected in awards such as: 1st position in the Economist Mega-fauna index; Gold medal award for Best Innovative Marketing Campaign and Quality Standard for Race for Rhinos, by Best Initiative Directions; New York Times listing of Botswana among the Top 5 destinations; Positive response to Botswana Tourism’s increased sponsorship of premier events from 9 to 35; Lonely Planet’s designation of Botswana as its number 1 “must see” country in 2016; and Winner Best Safari Experience in Africa(Jacks Camp)- Safari Awards 2017. 

Furthermore, Botswana was ranked number one in the Africa Investment Index 2016 by the Quantum Global Research Lab. Our country’s strategic location, politically stable environment, favourable credit rating and other advantages still present critical opportunities that we can build on to bring more investment into the country. In this regard, it is pleasing that we have been able to put together and open the Botswana One Stop Service Centre (BOSSC) and this too within a few months after definite resolve to complete this assignment. The centre will facilitate both foreign and domestic investors with prompt and efficient Government authorizations, all from a single locality. It will facilitate investment by shortening and simplifying administrative procedures for issuance of business approvals, permit and licences for productive investment, thereby making Botswana competitive in attracting Foreign Direct Investment. I also mentioned in the State of the Nation Address, the recent publication by Government of the lifting of several tender compliance and certification requirements which had been identified by the private sector as onerous. As with the One Stop Service Centre, once we put our minds to it, we moved with speed to achieve it. This should be the norm rather than an exception.

Government will continue to work towards reducing red tape and improve the ease of doing business for investors and businesses. However, the support of the private sector in these efforts is critical, especially in ensuring through enforcing its code of conduct on its members and associates alike to avoid abusing these changes that are introduced with good intent. In addition, it is my ardent hope that the recent review of the Immigration Act which led to the introduction of the Immigrants Sector Specific Selection Boards will improve our systems and processes, as well as turnaround times for the issuance of visas, work and residence permits. Our position is that, and has always been that we should allow investors of value into the economy, those who will create sustainable employment opportunities and those who bring skills that we do not have into the country. Basically, there should be a positive correlation between the permits given for a company, commensurate with the job opportunities that the company generates in the country.

This is part of President Ian Khama’s speech the High Level Consultative Council held in Gaborone on Thursday.