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Agricultural research vital for food security

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A consultant of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Birhanu Teshome says research on agriculture can help improve the declining contribution of agriculture in most African countries and reduce the food import bill. Teshome, who is the former President for Ethiopian Statistical Association told Business Trends that, African countries need to pay more attention to the declining figures on agriculture.

“Focus on agriculture is declining even the reporting on agriculture is declining. Therefore, we need to pay more attention to this if we want to improve food production and diversify the economy,” he said. He said, African countries need more research and provide quality statistics to relevant bodies- as this will help policy makers to make good decisions that will help improve food production.

“We need to produce food for own countries, but nowadays there is a shift on reliance as countries are now relying on processed food and this is not healthy for the economy. We need to look at the food we are importing and why are we importing them,” said Teshome.Agriculture’s contribution to GDP in Botswana declined to P347.50 million in the first quarter of 2017, from P363.50 million in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The current figures from Statistics Botswana indicate that agriculture’s contribution to GDP averaged P339.56 million from 2003 until 2017, reaching an all time high of P432.80 million in the second quarter of 2010 and; a record low of P182.80 million in the fourth quarter of 2009. However, agriculture contribution to GDP has been slowly declining from 40 percent in 1966 to the current three percent.

Cost of food in Botswana increased by 4.30 percent in June 2017. Food inflation in Botswana averaged 7.91 percent from 2002 to 2017, reaching an all time high of 25.11 percent in October 2008 and a record low of 0.70 percent in December 2015. Teshome also explained that agriculture statistics are affected by various challenges including climate change, lack of expertise and focus on mineral sector.

He said statisticians need to be trained in order to come up with quality statistics. “We rely much on agriculture so we need to have reliable statistics so we can have good estimates,” he said. Speaking during the Agriculture Statistics workshop last week, Statistician General Anna Majelantle said there are challenges regarding provision of quality statistics citing among-others lack of expertise and skills in specific sector statistics.

She said African National Statistics Offices and development partners continue to collaborate in the development and implementation of statistics frameworks to provide expertise and skills for the improvement of various sector statistics. “The training component of the Action Plan for Africa is currently being implemented by the African Centre for Statistics of the Economic Commission for Africa with the technical support from the African Working Group on statistical training and human resources,” she said.

The Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics was established and endorsed by the United Nations Statistical Commission in 2010. Its objective was to provide a framework that will help improve the availability and quality of statistics on agriculture and food security in the world.

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Matambo calls on financial sector to pick GDP

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Finance Minister, kenneth Matambo

Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo has announced that government is committed to support financial service sector to prop up the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Currently contributing over 13 percent to GDP, Matambo said the sector has potential to increase its share. “Hence government’s interest in the sector,” said Matambo addressing delegates at the inaugural Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL), Global Financial Summit.

The country has built a strong, resilient and fast growing financial sector underpinned by a robust regulatory framework. The finance minister who is expected to step down next year, noted that government’s commitment to the financial service sector has this year been buttressed by a number of laws passed in July relating to money laundering activities.

In addition, Matambo said the continued investment in the development of information, communication and technologies (ICTs) backbone infrastructure is also to support local banks’ rising appetite for online services.

The Minister said the country remains committed to maintaining micro-economic stability to spur private sector participation in the economy. “Our vision is to become a high income country by 2036,” said Matambo, challenging the private sector to step forward and help government to develop the country, bemoaning the low levels of financial inclusion and shallow domestic capital markets.

He said the private sector should come up with more initiatives to develop further the local capital markets. The Minister’s sentiments were also shared by Martin Davies, Managing Director for Emerging Markets and Africa at Deloitte who has challenged the country to start dealing with its low manufacturing value add.

“How do we start to diversify beyond the single commodity economy,” quizzed Davies, adding that manufacturing increase is vital for low inequality across the country.

“Inequality results in bad public policy, as the state starts to believe and think they have to intervene more,” said Davies, highlighting that the country needs to move away from the absolute concept of state drive growth. Meanwhile, minister Matambo has applauded the private sector for leading economic dialogue in the country through events such as the BIHL Global Finance Summit.

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First Lady advises women entrepreneurs

Keikantse Lesemela

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First lady, Neo Masisi

First Lady, Neo Masisi has urged women entrepreneurs to bring change in the economic development of the country and the rest of Africa.

Speaking during the Lioness Lean in Africa breakfast on Friday, Masisi said women entrepreneurs are remarkable engines of economic growth and job creation. “I believe women entrepreneurs hold incredible potential and credentials on the continent because Africa has the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world.

It is projected that millions of much needed jobs will be created over the next decade and these will be created predominantly through small businesses which are mostly run by women,” said Masisi.She highlighted that women entrepreneurs are also the most powerful engine for equitably distributing growth and they are also solutions for addressing inequality on the continent.

“It is a proven fact that for many generations, women understand the simple concept of barter and commerce. These are the role models of our past and our present and they will continue to inspire new generations to do more for business to grow,” she said.

The Lioness Lean In Breakfast Series brings together inspirational and successful women entrepreneurs to share, inspire and connect with the next generation of great women-led start-ups.

The platform is based on a breakfast networking and speaker presentation format, which has been organized in locations across the African continent for the past year by Lionesses of Africa, empowering over one million women entrepreneurs across the continent.

Stanbic Bank Botswana Head of Personal Markets, Omphemetse Dube said they are pleased to bring the Lionesses of Africa Lean In platform to Botswana once again to bring together women entrepreneurs in the country and help to nurture their growth further.

“Botswana is blessed with a number of thriving female entrepreneurs, and the potential for the next generation of talent is strong. Platforms such as this are therefore paramount in growing the cause and we as a bank are proud to help champion that movement further,” said Dube.

Founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa,Melanie Hawken noted that Gaborone is a growing and exciting centre for women’s entrepreneurship in Africa. “This is a must-attend event for women entrepreneurs in the country as it gives them the opportunity to hear the inspiring entrepreneurial stories of women who are building great businesses here,” she said.

The annual Lionesses of Africa event allows entrepreneurs to benefit from the insights and advice of women entrepreneurs who have seen and experienced it all and to also provide an excellent opportunity for networking.

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