Leading local corporates and financial gurus converged at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) on Thursday afternoon for the inaugural Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) Global Financial Summit.
Held under theme ‘Navigating the Challenges and Opportunities in Financial Services in Emerging Markets’; the Summit also had a top deck bench of panellists interrogating the controversial China – Africa relationship.
BIHL Group CEO Catherine Lesetedi said the move was inspired by the need to assist Government in its diversification efforts and ensure the group helps in finding solutions to current economic challenges.
“We cannot remain bystanders to crucial conversations,” she declared. She challenged Government and the private sector to relook at the business models that tend to crowd out the SMEs, saying solutions should be identified to enable the businesses.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo urged the financial sector to work towards ensuring financial inclusion and boosting the shallow domestic market. He said innovative ways must be adopted to grow the financial sector.
He reemphasised Government’s commitment to providing an enabling environment for business growth. Deloitte South Africa’s Dr Martin Davis addressed the Summit on the topic – “Creating a diversified economy through a vibrant SMME sector – opportunities and strengths of Botswana and lessons learnt in Emerging Markets”.
He praised Botswana for its stand of ensuring that the private sector takes a leading role in the diversification and growth of the economy. “This is music to my ears; I do not hear this much,” he declared.
“Botswana is unique – you should be proud of yourself. It is difficult to have state accountability in resource based economies. Resources are usually captured by the elite. Exhibit A - Angola,” he charged.
According to him, the emerging markets story is a Governance one, saying poor governance was contributing to poor growth and economic failures.
He advised that innovation and manufacturing were critical in growing economies, warning that pressures arising from inequalities were contributing to bad policy developments. Dr Davies warned Botswana of the pitfalls of over relying on diamonds while having limited know-how in growing the sector and its downstream – advising that the country should take concrete steps to get the skills and know-how from those advanced as India.
Other speakers were: Bame Pule of Africa Lighthouse Capital whose company has just been awarded P500m investment fund to manage on behalf of the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF); Keith Vincent of Wilderness Safari and Mamadou Mbaye from the Sovereign Fund of Senegal.