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Bots, Zim explore trade opportunities

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Top government officials from Botswana and Zimbabwe as well as captains of industry from both countries this week embarked on a journey that is expected to see the countries taking advantage of trade and investment opportunities that exist between the two. Though Zimbabwe is said to be one of Botswana’s leading trade partners in the region, there has been a decline in trade between the two countries in recent years.

Speaking at the Botswana-Zimbabwe Business Forum on Tuesday, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Vincent Seretse said Botswana’s export to Zimbabwe declined by nine percent on a cumulative basis from P827 million to P555 million between the period 2012 to 2016. Imports from Zimbabwe into Botswana on the other hand also followed a similar pattern and fell by eight percent cumulatively from the same period with the overall balance of trade in favour of Botswana. Botswana’s recorded export basket to Zimbabwe comprises of salt, veterinary medicine, live animals, vehicles among others. Zimbabwe however, has been a consistent source of timber, sugar and cement for Botswana.

Seretse said currently, there are several companies with Zimbabwean shareholding operating in Botswana’s manufacturing industry. The majority operate in the timber and sugar packaging industries. “These companies have over the years invested around P132 million in Botswana with an estimated annual turnover of P392 million,” Seretse said, adding that these companies have employed around 436 permanent employees and an additional 436 part-time employees.

This, according to Seretse, excludes one of the largest investments with Zimbabwean shareholding in the mobile telecommunications sector. Seretse believes that the existence of a Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty between Botswana and Zimbabwe will facilitate cross border value chain linkages and Joint Venture partnerships. The Treaty was singed on June 16, 2004 and ratified by Botswana on August 3, 2004 entered into force on February 25, 2008.

He further said Botswana has since proposed to amend Article 25 of the Agreement to align it with internationally agreed standards on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. Both Botswana and Zimbabwe are expected to have committed to sign the amended agreement by June 30, 2018. “I requests our governments to openly engage with business community and try to amicably address any issues related to Non-Tariff measures to facilitate more trade flows,” Seretse said. Botswana and Zimbabwe have trade facilitation instruments including the Botswana/Zimbabwe Bilateral Trade Agreement, which allows for goods traded between the two countries to be exempted from payment of customs duties, provided they meet the minimum requirement of 25 percent local content.

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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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