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Matambo projects strong economic recovery

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The country’s economy will accelerate by more than five percent this year, backed by strong recovery of the mining and non-mining sectors, Finance and Economic Development minister, Kenneth Matambo told legislators on Monday. Presenting the 2018/19 budget speech, the finance minister said the country’s growth of 5.3 percent in 2018, will be boosted by global economic recovery which always works in favour of the country’s mining sector, especially diamonds. On the surface, it will seem diamonds’ recovery is being sustained since last year as evidenced by good sales.

De Beers, a company owned jointly by Botswana Government and Anglo American, has seen its first sales of 2018 jumping to $665 million (about P6, 65 billion). Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “Following positive early signs for diamond jewellery sales over the holiday season in the US, the need for the industry to restock led to increasing demand for our rough diamonds in the first sales cycle of 2018.

“This seasonal restocking demand does usually see a larger share of annual purchases being planned into the first sales cycle of the year by our customers, resulting in an encouraging sales performance”. Diamonds remain the country’s biggest export revenue earner by far, in the process contributing more to the country’s treasury. Matambo, whose term as finance minister is expected to lapse just before general elections next year, told the national assembly that, non-mining sector’s expected robust growth will be lifted by government’s interventions in terms of policies and strategies meant to diversify the economy. Impacts of the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) are expected to be felt across the economy in the short to medium term.

The ESP was launched some three years ago to jack up the economy by investing in high-return projects across all sectors. While the minister is bullish of the year ahead, Economic Research Manager at First National Bank (FNB) Botswana, Moatlhodi Sebabole is less buoyant. “As FNBB, we forecast a growth rate of 1.7 percent for 2017 and 3.2 percent for 2018 – way below the forecasts by the finance ministry,” he told Botswana Guardian last week.

“We are cautiously optimistic in our growth estimates due to the structural make-up of the economy which remains mineral-led and has limited multiplier effect on employment creation and enhanced productivity”. Meanwhile, Matambo said more efforts would be channeled towards economic diversification, which includes improving ease of doing business and the development and maintenance of economic infrastructure. “With regard to the ease of doing business, Government remains committed to improving the country’s ranking as it affects its ability to attract foreign direct investment, which is necessary for growth and economic diversification,” stated Matambo.

As far as development of economic infrastructure is concerned, government will spend a significant amount of the 2018/19 budget in funding energy, water and information and technology infrastructure.

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SMEs benefit from Consumer Fair growth

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The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has applauded Botswana Consumer Fair’s continued efforts to improve small to medium enterprises’ linkages.

BITC Chief Executive Officer, Keletsositse Olebile, when opening the fair, said the event has provided interactive forum for both local and foreign exhibitors. He said the shopping show has enabled manufacturers, wholesalers and traders to market their products directly to consumers, an alignment to government’s endeavors.

“As part of government intention, we continually encourage local sourcing by retailers and distributors,” said Olebile who is just few months into his new post. He further celebrated the growth of Botswana Consumer Fair over the years, attributing the expansion to quality of goods displayed at the previous shows.“Improved quality and increased variety of wares increases the interest of the visitors and makes them look forward to returning the following year,” said Olebile.

This year’s exhibitors at the 13th event still running under the banner: ‘It is more than just shopping’ have been drawn from Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Japan, India, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Consumer Fair is a flagship event for Fairgrounds Holdings and provides a platform for small medium enterprises (SMEs) from the different sectors of the economy to showcase and promote their products and services. In addition, the SMEs are expected to establish long term business linkages and promote local manufactured goods.Fairgrounds Holdings is already optimistic that the Fair immensely contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through supporting SMEs.

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‘Involve SMMEs in standards development’-Minister

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo appealed to Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to include the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) when developing the standards to improve the sector.

She said the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has identified three areas of focus going forward which are modeled on SMME development, investment promotion and export development apexes. “I would like to implore you to include this sector in standards development processes and assist in improving SMMEs conformity to standards and compliance to technical regulations,” said Kenewendo.

Speaking during the BOBS Technical Committee Members appreciation ceremony on Thursday, Kenewendo explained that the important roles of standards are underpinned by the aspirations and intentions espoused in both diversified export led economic growth and job creation as priority areas. “It goes without saying that the diversification of the economy requires a National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework that promote competitiveness of Botswana goods and services.”

She also emphasized that an effective National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework are essential as they provide crucial links to global trade, market access and export competitiveness through their contribution to consumer confidence in product safety, quality and the environment.Since inception in 1997 BOBS has published more than 1700 standards through 48 technical committees across several sectors of the economy; 109 certification licences have been issued against some of these standards. Currently 46 Botswana Standards are being implemented through the standards regulations with a view to protecting the health and safety of consumers as well as protection of the environment.

On her note, BOBS Vice Chairperson of the Standards Council, Professor Edward Dintwa said standards are powerful tools for helping organisations that implement them to realize their potential, have access and compete in the global marketplace. “In this highly competitive and complex world, issues of sustainability and productivity, viewed from economic, environmental and societal perspectives require that businesses must be more efficient in their operations, which can be achieved through the implementation of standards”.

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