Chinese ambassador to Botswana, Zheng Zhu Qiang says he believes Botswana could develop and extend its industry fields, not only in the construction industry, but also in other areas that makes workers more skilled and competitive. The ambassador was addressing guests on Tuesday during the Business Botswana Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the topic, ‘China’s role in skills development and transfer in Botswana’. Zhu Qiang said Botswana could learn a thing or two from the Chinese economy which he said was once only known to make fabrics, but decided to diversify the industry by developing electronics industry, automobile industry and others. He said developments in such industries have made China to have more skilled workers in many industries. Though Chinese companies, especially construction, have in the past been accused of doing shoddy jobs and not completing their jobs within the stipulated time frame, the ambassador believes Chinese investors are playing an important role in economic diversification. Zhu Qiang said he was glad to see Chinese investing in many factories to help diversify Botswana’s industry.
“They built a steel tube works, some built lumber mill, and some built a perfume industry. They all play important roles in Botswana industry,” he said. He said since the Johannesburg Summit between China and African states, more Chinese companies have devoted themselves to the construction of Africa, which will facilitate skills transfer to African workers. Ambassador Zhu Qiang also spoke about policies that will make investment in Botswana easier. He said in the 70s, the Chinese government decided to reform and enforced many policies to encourage foreign companies to build factories in China. “When foreigners hired domestic workers, who were not skilled enough at that time, Chinese government would give them tax breaks, and gave foreign workers and engineers more facilitation on visa policy.” He said as a result, after years, the workers hired by foreign companies became well-trained, which China to possess a huge pool of skilled workers in the world. In addition, Zhu Qiang said training is needed, insisting that a team of well-trained work force is the guarantee to complete any project effectively and efficiently with ensured quality.
“In Botswana, Chinese enterprises have implemented some training programmes, which impart skills and knowledge to their local employees. It is welcomed and encouraged by Botswana government.” He gave an example of the skill and technology training programme launched by Zheng tai Group, which he described as meaningful; having raised the morale, increased employees’ dignity and loyalty to company. He said trained workers will bring more skills to other domestic workers. Business Botswana President, Lokwalo Mosienyane, when welcoming the guests, said in their advocacy role they continue to dialogue with government on challenges faced by the business community and continue to lobby for a business friendly environment. Mosienyane said contrary to some sentiments which often suggest a lack of private sector support for government, the private sector’s interpretation of prevailing monetary conditions as well as signs of stabilization in water and electricity service provisioning during the year have contributed to the positive outlook projected by the private sector in the business expectations survey.