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Change business focus-Business Botswana chief

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The current economic climate of soft commodity prices provides an opportune time for the government and stakeholders to change their business focus.

It adds impetus for Botswana to reform the business environment and usher in a dynamic, resilient, globally competitive and diversified private sector,” Leta Mosienyane, President of Business Botswana said during the De Beers and Chatham House conference  in Gaborone. It was held under the theme: Connecting Resources and Society in Botswana.

“Therefore any support to the business sector should focus on reforms that will improve the business environment especially in the areas where we are lagging behind,” urged Mosienyane, singling out delays in issuing out investments permits and work permits, which have also been identified in the latest World Bank ‘doing business’ report.

Mosienyane also challenged the private sector to continue negotiating with the government in attracting global talent. “Investors, both domestic and foreign, need certainty and predictability in order to plan their operations. It is important once again, for the private sector to continue to engage the government to ensure that a transparent, predictable and objective system for recruiting global talent is put in place,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, University of Botswana economics senior lecturer, Malebogo Bakwena, called on policy makers to set up targets and time frames when formulating and implementing government programmes so that they will be able to measure their success. She said at times some national programmes were made without set out and stipulated timeframes, making it difficult to measure their achievements.

“We need to set time and specific targets when implementing plans. The policy makers should ask themselves what the target is. For example in the manufacturing sector, what is the target growth, like for example one percent every year or 0, 5 percent every year rather than just saying we want to stimulate the manufacturing sector,” said Bakwena.

Bakwena also said Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) should try to build partnerships with established companies so that they will be able to develop into big companies. “Collaboration is also important because it can assist the SMEs to penetrate the international market,” she said. Bakwena said some SMEs in other countries were able to compete globally through forging alliances with big companies.

“For example the Mauritius textile industry networked and forged alliances with foreign companies and through that they were able to compete globally,” said Bakwena. Mosienyane used the opportunity to urge government to speed up the privatisation of parastatals, lamenting that the process remains painfully slow.

“But we are hopeful that the Initial Public Offering of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) will finally take place before the end of the year. The IPO has been postponed on several occasions and therefore risks undermining our credibility in the investment community,” said Mosienyane.

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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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