Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Exporters and Manufactures Association (BEMA) Mmantlha Sankoloba says revised Botswana Exporters Development Programme (BEDP) is a welcome step.
BEMA is pinning hopes on the new BEDP launched by Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) in collaboration with United Nations Development Plan (UNDP) in bid to boost exporters.
In an interview Sankoloba said BEMA believes that to improve or increase Botswana exports, a very strategic approach is requisite; noting BEDP holds lucrative potential to boost exports.
“In the past and present, there were several concerns raised around products not meeting foreign market standards and regulations; this was a major obstacle as certain markets are strict on conformity to their regulation,” she said, adding that building consumer confidence is key.
According to her, BEDP promotes the linking of products to relevant markets, which would assist various exporters or manufacturers in particular areas of focus, to understand specific quality and standards that are required by foreign markets.
“This will go a long way in cutting loses as goods would not be rejected at the borders; it will assist Botswana Exporters to build foreign consumer confidence, hence market share retention in the long-term. However, the BEDP needs to assess the individual and unique needs and potential of exporters, thus tailor made solutions are requisite. A one size fits all solution may not work for most companies as it may not address their real issues,” buttressed the confident Sankoloba.
She said the association is also working with various stakeholders to help domestic manufacturers to be well-positioned to seize arising opportunities.
“We are working on numerous programmes that will assess various companies and provide them with useful feedback to utilise when shaping and shifting their organisations to be more poised for International Business,” she said, noting that the manufacturing is sector key to diversifying the economy.
Asked on the proposed Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE) bill, she said when delving into exporting issues, it is essential to deal with grassroots issues first to unlock growth.
Sankoloba said they noticed several concerns, especially during turbulent Covid-19 times.
“As an Association, we have received concerns from various exporting entities, regarding the onerous process that is involved in getting goods across the border, trucks being delayed due to COVID testing and delay in issuance of permits for exporters,” she said.
BITC Chief Executive Officer Keletsositse Olebile said the exporter sector is faced with avalanche of challenges such as difficult market penetration; hence the revised BEDP will facilitates easy access.
He noted that Botswana exporters should not be left behind in tapping into what is likely to be the largest trade deal in Contentinental Free Trade Agreement which has GDP worth $3.4 trillion.
Olebile reiterated that BITC stands firm to explore the journey with all important key stakeholders and is open to engagement in effort to promote export development in local context.