F/town land bank for investors

SHARE   |   Sunday, 06 July 2014   |   By Shingirai Madondo
Kgalajwe Kgalajwe

With the Francistown City Council (FCC)’s investment forum just less than two months away, reservation of land is the latest inspiration out of the investment-hungry municipality’s basket to attract investors. FCC, one of the few ambitious local authorities in the country geared towards growing the country’s economy, has partnered with the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) to host a three-day forum aimed at wooing investors into Francistown.

The forum will be hosted on August 19th until the 21st at Adansonia Hotel. Through the help from the BITC, international investors are expected to grace the event aimed at being a historical milestone towards growing Francistown’s economy. Being the country’s second largest city, Francistown has become home to a number of youthful job seekers. But due to limited employment opportunities in Francistown, authorities here have been blamed for the development.

Employment seekers here are arguing that authorities are not doing enough to ensure that opportunities are created for the youths of this country to get employed. Some have resorted to criminal activities in order to make ends meet. However, their lamentations seem to have been answered. For job opportunities to be created there is need for investment to take shape in Francistown and the surrounding areas by both locals and international investors.

After realising that investors were not forthcoming, the city embarked on a research to find out what could be deterring conglomerates to set up businesses in the country’s second largest city and the surrounding areas. They realised that land shortage was the main reason and now Francistown is in the process of setting up a land bank specifically for investors. The council is confident that the development might open doors for the city.

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Francistown mayor James Kgalajwe said the Ministry of Lands and Housing has offered to reserve a certain amount of land near Gerald Estates location for investment purposes. According to Kgalajwe, the foundation has been laid. He said it is a matter of time before Francistown starts receiving investors envisaged to flock into the country’s second largest city to create employment.

Reserving a land means locking it for a certain period of time, said Kgalajwe. He said the land could be kept vacant for two years or more according to the agreement with other investors waiting for allocation.

“We (Kgalajwe and his delegation) met with the minister (Lebonaamang Mokalake) and an agreement was arrived at. This is a risky proposal but the council together with the government wants to give it a try to attract investors,” said Kgalajwe.

However, Kgalajwe could not divulge the size of the land currently locked for the sole purpose of attracting investors. He said chances of the size being increased are very high especially after the investment forum.

“The expectation is that we are going to lure a number of investors to come and set up shop in the city after the investment forum,” said the city mayor. The investment forum coordinator said the reservation of land will come in handy for them to easily lure investors. He said marketing Botswana for investment purposes has been a mammoth task because of land issues. By press time, efforts to solicit comment from Minister Mokalake were futile.