Gaborone — Government in partnership with other stakeholders is committed to enhancing competitiveness of businesses at both industry and enterprise level.
Speaking at this year’s commemoration of Africa Industrialisation Day, Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) Mr Karabo Gare said the move would enable Botswana to strategically position itself to derive better benefits by tapping into external markets.
He said the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) agreement brought together 55 African countries to create a single market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of over US$3.4 trillion.
“In addition, Botswana through its regional integration initiatives is party to SADC Industrialisation Strategy. The strategy seeks to facilitate the region in transition from being commodity dependent to become value-adding and industrialised economies,” he added.
Mr Gare said Africa was presently predominantly viewed as a producer and exporter of primary commodities and an importer of value-added manufactured goods.
He said Botswana like its counterparts in Africa was still dependent on minerals coupled with narrow industry base.
“The manufacturing industry in Botswana has been growing at a constant rate even though the sector has the potential to contribute towards economic growth and employment creation. According to Bank of Botswana annual report, the sector accounted for four per cent and 6.3 per cent of GDP for the period 2017 and 2018, respectively. The manufacturing output rose by 3.7 per cent in the year ending September 2018 compared to growth of 1.8 per cent in the year that ended September 2017,” he said.
Mr Gare said the figures called for the nation to introspect and develop measures such as improved technology transfer and development of product quality standards, which conformed to international requirements and facilitating industrialisation financing.
He said the measures would transform the sector and give meaningful contribution to the growth of the economy.
Mr Gare said in order to create a conducive environment for industrial growth, government had approved the Industrial Development Policy in 1984 with emphasis on import substitution. He said the policy was reviewed in 1989 and 2014 to focus on export-led economy.
He said the manufacturing sector in Botswana was still at an infancy stage, which led to most industries depending on government support for survival.
He said other challenges related to lack of access to finance, markets and raw materials as well as limited manufacturing production related skills and support services.
“MITI has this year initiated the process to further review the Industry Development Policy of 2014 to align it to new developments of critical importance such as the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). A swift response to the advent of the 4IR would assist in creating wealth, contributing to socio-economic prosperity and facilitating sustainable development and growth,” he said.
He said the ministry had amended some pieces of legislation including, among others, the Industrial Development Act and the Trade Act. He said the amendments were aimed at improving the turnaround time from five days to a day in the issuance of licenses for businesses with health and safety concerns when all prerequisites had been met.
For her part, deputy permanent secretary at MITI Ms Ontlametse Ward said Botswana joined the rest of the African countries in commemorating the industrialisation with a view to sharing her experiences and challenges relating to industrialisation. BOPA