The long awaited Business Botswana Northern Trade Fair finally started on Thursday.
Coming at a time when the northern region is plagued with several economic ailments, the closure of several mines and the recent shutdown of the BMC in Francistown; the trade fair was the perfect platform to network and dialogue on strategy that may catapult the north and the country as a whole out of its current economic quagmire.
This year’s theme for the fair was “Tourism: Botswana’s hope amidst mining fortunes.” Most stalls had this tag line displayed openly as part of their exhibition, to reinforce the theme.
Business Botswana’s Eileen Van Der Est said what motivated this theme was the need to diversify the economy away from mining which has been a life line to Botswana’s economy and main GDP contributor since independence.
The fact that of late minerals are performing badly on the global market is a huge stimuli to the leaders of Botswana and stakeholders to aggressively seek options that will diversify Botswana’s economy from minerals.
Exploring tourism as an industry that can offset overdependence on the mining sector in concert with finding viable options to diversify the economy is also a strong underlying motive for the theme.
On the day reserved for judges and exhibitors, the fair looked like it had garnered an impressive array of exhibitors, drawn locally and far beyond the region, as even the Kenyan High Commission had a stall.
Various tertiary institutions, non-governmental organisations and parastatals and small businesses were present, indicating that the fair also catered for the small entrepreneur that does not have corporate backing. Lined-up events included golf tournament, a fashion show, cycle race, and various activities for the kids.