As economic gloom hoovers
“Be afraid. Be very afraid!” is probably an apt warning for ordinary Batswana as the economy continues to falter, thanks to the ugly effects of the world credit crunch that took many countries by a surprise in 2008.
All economic indicators are pointing at a troubled situation in months if not years ahead unless there will be a major intervention.
At its inception, the Vision 2016 identified that the annual growth rate of 8percent was required in order for the nation to achieve the objectives of the country’s visualization with regard to economic growth and diversification.
Boa Chombah, an Advocacy and Communications Director with the Vision 2016 Council, painted this gloom picture in her speech during the opening ceremony of the BOCCIM Northern Trade Fair on Friday.
Botswana has experienced a good economic recovery following the global economic meltdown in 2008/09 with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth exceeding the eight percent mark in 2010 and 2011, she said.
“However, subsequent years have seen a downward trend as GDP growth fell from 8.1percent in 2010 to 5.9percent in 2013,” revealed Chombah. The message pierced the hearts of many captains of industry who graced this year’s Fair.
As if explaining downward trend of the country’s economic performance was not discouraging enough, Chombah warned the gathering of more disaster ahead.
“This year, the Bank of Botswana has reported an even lower growth rate of 4.8percent which is far below the Vision 2016 target,” said Chombah.
To reverse the downward trend, Chombah advocated for other minerals to play a significant role in the diversification of the economy.
Although the diversification process started within the mining sector, Chombah said other minerals need to play a part in contributing to the country’s economic growth.
Minerals such as copper, nickel, salt, soda ash and coal can also play an important role in the broadening the economy and their beneficiation could contribute to significant reductions in unemployment through value addition.
For his part, Botswana Telecommunications (BTC) Limited Managing Director Paul Taylor advised businesspeople to embrace technology. He said Information Communications Technology (ICT) plays an important role in the national economy.
“ICT is vital not only for our economic growth but also helps countries and cities to remain competitive within the increasingly information-orientated global economy,” he said.
Taylor added that it is therefore critical for stakeholders to support strategic objectives and initiatives aimed at contributing towards growing the economy.
The BOCCIM Trade Fair, that is being held under the theme: Encompassing Local Businesses in value Creation through Innovat8ve Partnerships, came alive on Wednesday and is expected to end today (Sunday).