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bottled water restrictions

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Challenges still linger in the bottled water industry, despite government seeing positives on the horizon following a statutory instrument introduced last year to restrict bottled water imports.

Bogolo Kenewendo, the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry told Business Trends that there are a few sticking challenges. Some of the challenges include shortage of spring and sparkling water, as the country has two producers, one for each type respectively.“There is only one producer for spring water being capacitated by some of the retailers and because they have shown commitment to upping the standards of the local producer, we are giving them import permits for spring water, in the meantime,” said Kenewendo.

On sparkling water, Kenewendo conceded that the local producer is overwhelmed by demand.“We have taken that kind of feed back into note, and are reviewing the instrument to say how best we serve the production side and still ensure that the demand side is served as well,” said Kenewendo.

She said government is conscious not to implement a policy at the detriment of the consumer.“We need to find a balance between the producer and the consumer,” said Kenewendo. Meanwhile, the minister said the implementation of the statutory instrument is going well.“There are a lot of new entrants that come with the rise of the instrument and in the beginning, we had a few issues with listing and quality but we are guaranteed that now the retailers have come on board and are buying local,” said Kenewendo, adding that retailers are urged to support local products and manufacturers that meet the standards.

“I do not know any retailer that would put their integrity on line to sell water they cannot vouch for its quality,” emphasized the minister. Last year, when the bottled water statutory instrument was implemented, over 20 companies were registered in the sector. Import figures from Statistics Botswana indicate that in 2016 a total of 2,291, 439 litres were imported into the country at the value of P23, 406,475.

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Market Street day supports local products

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo has encouraged citizens to promote and support local products thus contributing to employment creation and economic development.

Speaking during the ministry’s Market Street day on Saturday, the trade minister said the ministry came up with the initiative to expose local products to the national market. “The plan is to keep growing so that we get Batswana products in the shops and get Batswana to know the products in the shops,” said Kenewendo. Market street day was initiated last year as a platform to add on to the continuing efforts to grow local businesses. This year, retail sector, including Shoprite, Choppies and Ackerman’s from South Africa participated in the exhibition.

Kenewendo pointed out that supporting local products helps reduce export of jobs. “Most of Batswana will say they don’t want to buy locally produced goods because they are of low quality, we need to buy from them so that they grow. When we buy products from other countries we are exporting jobs, why should we export jobs?” she asked rhetorically. Economic diversification drive should not be a Government initiative alone, only but all citizens should contribute, she concluded.

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Botswana behind in ease of doing business

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Botswana has been challenged to improve easy of doing business for the country to remain competitive amongst its peers.

The Director of Investor Facilitation and Relations at Special Economic Zones Authority’s (SEZA), Neo Mahube recently told delegates at the two- day investment symposium dubbed Doing Business in Botswana, Transitioning Botswana that the country needs to be globally competitive.“The world is growing better than we are, there is something that we are not doing right, despite our political stability and sound economic policies,” said Mahube.

Currently, Botswana lags behind Mauritius, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa on the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report. Mahube said bottlenecks that investors and local startups face to register a business should be resolved.

“We need to transform the way we are doing business, if we are to bring businesses to Botswana,” said Mahube, adding that the country needs to be as efficient as possible to start a business, apart from improving credit efficiency.

She however applauded government for legislation amendment initiatives that have already been put in place ahead of the transformation journey. Mahube said through transforming the ease of doing business the country has potential to create employment.

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