With one in every five 'active' people in Botswana struggling to find meanigful employment experts on Thursday hosted a discussion in Gaborone to explore strategies for job creation in the country. Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo recently revealed in his presentation of the 2015/16 budget that unemployment rate currently stands at 19.8 percent. Botswana’s growth rate slowed from an average seven percent for several years to 4.5 percent in 2015, presenting a major challenge for job creation particularly for the youth.
Lynette Ntule, Chief Executive of Innate Investment Solutions in South Africa and Bakang Seretse-Afena Capital Managing Director said entrepreneurship and business are the key solutions to challenges faced by young people globally where skills, employment and poverty alleviation are concerned. Seretse said the problem of youth unemployment is that it extends far beyond the immediate crisis of individuals lacking a wage. “Longer term national threats include political stability, viability of the country’s fiscal and social security, and the social integration of a non-productive generation,” he observed.
Seretse said the country should shed its perception of a sleepy country and adopt commercial mentality. As things stand he says the future of Botswana as a country transformed into a nation with attractive and competeitive location for business and skilled people who start up and run those businesses is not assured going forward.
Unemployment, it is said stands in the way of efforts put in place to eradicate poverty. He is of the believe that jobs can only be created by the SMMEs. “Botswana is defined as a middle income country, yet most of its people live in conditions typical of a low-income country,” Seretse said.
He said it is clear that what is lacking is not money, but a clear indication that effective, sustainable and ways of distributing it. Seretse said he appreciates that the 2008 financial crisis played a role in the current unemployment predicament but it should also be acknowledged that issues of unemployment have been in existence for more than a generation. He therefore argues that the problem lies with infrastructure spending which has had no exponential effect on unemployment; this is because of import of Asian labour. Seretse explained that infrastructure spending stimulates demand, creates jobs, boosts spending and drives growth through a multiplier growth. “The massive investment in infrastructure must leave more than power stations, rail lines, dams and roads, it must industrialise the country,” he said adding that without that kind of investment, no country will ever achieve sustainable growth.
There is a solution according to Seretse. All governments departments, private enterprises and citizens must uniformly and consistently apply the same value framework as national objective in implementing their perspective day-to-day activities.
This includes removal of all regulatory hurdles across government departments and the private sector that are not consistent with the achievement of the job creation strategy.
Lynette Ntule, Chief Executive of Innate Investment Solutions in South Africa said entrepreneurship and business has been touted as one of the key solutions to the challenges that are faced by young people globally where skills, employment and poverty alleviation are concerned.
She says it is therefore not surprising that the interest in start-up culture and developing small businesses has increased exponentially in the last five years but it is still widely driven by circumstances as opposed to intent and carefully thought out design.