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Francistown offers opportunities

 The business community in Francistown must take advantage of the city’s Vision 2022 and guide government on how doing business can be made easier.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Dorcus Makgato-Malesu said this at the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) northern gala dinner over the weekend.

The minister said in an endeavour to be partakers in the Francistown long term strategy dubbed Francistown Vision 2022: An investment Centre of Vibrance by 2022, the business community should utilise BOCCIM structures to make their voice heard on how the business environment could be developed further.

Ms Makgato-Malesu noted that despite the numerous opportunities and abundant resources in Francistown, the city seemed to be stagnant and not growing at a desired pace.

“The city is surrounded by a number of mining opportunities and many sectors have failed to utilise the mining activities and hence the city needs to be revamped and fully engaged in order to create wealth in it,” she said.

She said the private sector was considered the engine of economic growth and urged the business community to take advantage of the mining sector. Ms Makgato-Malesu said they should set up industries for locally available products as well as participating in Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to achieve economic diversification for Francistown.

“Promoting sustainable enterprise is about strengthening the institutions and governance systems, which nurture enterprise and this calls for new forms of cooperation between the government and the business community to ensure that quality of present and future life is optimised whilst safe-guarding the sustainability of Francistown,” she said.

Ms Makgato-Malesu said she was aware that Francistown experienced challenges such as high levels of unemployment, delays in land servicing, lengthy business processes, congested and inaccessible road network as well as congestion of services within the Central Business District that hinder flourishing of businesses and enterprises.

She expressed hope that the city’s long term strategy would give it a face -lift and eventually provide a conducive environment for business to flourish. On other issues, the minister said results of her ministry’s efforts to provide a conducive environment for growing the economy are starting to show.

She explained that in the 2013/14 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, Botswana improved by five places, moving from position 79 out of 144 countries in the 2012/13 report to 74 out of 146. Ms Makgato-Malesu said the World Bank Doing Business Report ranked Botswana higher at number 56 out of 189 countries from position 65 out of 185 countries in the 2012 report.

The BOCCIM president, Mr Leta Mosienyane commended government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry for making great strides in the implementation and monitoring of the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD).

He noted that BOCCIM was also engaged in some initiatives that encourage its members to procure from local suppliers and provide data of local purchases as a way of partnering with government and ensuring the success of the EDD.

Mr Mosienyane said BOCCIM was in the process of reviewing its constitution and complete its strategic plan to include them to become an apex body whose membership would be autonomous chambers of commerce representing all large and small businesses in Botswana.

He said by doing that, BOCCIM would become more relevant and representative to its members, adding that they had already engaged Selebi Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit region to become an autonomous chamber of commerce affiliated to it.

“We decided to embark on Selibe Phikwe first due to its peculiarity occasioned by the threat of the demise of the mining town,” he said.

He said BOCCIM will continue to advocate and lobby the government for an open economy and  removal of all bureaucratic and red tape that renders Botswana difficult to do business in. ENDS