November 19, 2018

Botswana, in the framework of the Global Expo 2018

Diplomat Magazine spoke to Botswana’s Minister Bogolo Kenewendo

In the framework of the Global Expo Botswana 2018, Diplomat Magazine had the pleasure to talking to the country’s Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, The Honourable Bogolo Kenewendo.

Do you foresee any effects that Brexit may have on Botswana, and its relations to the EU? Particularly because Botswana’s only BITC has only a seat in London. Have you pondered about moving it to an EU country, or opening one in Paris, Berlin or Frankfurt?

Botswana like any other country, is following with keen interest on debates and the envisaged outcomes of the Brexit, especially the type of impact it will confer on our trade and investment aspirations. You will note that the UK has traditionally been Botswana biggest export market in terms of both beef and diamonds, while imports of machinery equipment, destined for the mining industry have been very high.

Botswana and other SACU members have taken a collective keen interest given the existing market access preferences accorded through the SADC – EU EPA, which provisionally entered into force on 10th October 2016, and would like to preserve an existing status quo with the EU in terms of the current market access commitments that are in existence through the SADC EU EPA.

Bogolo Kenewendo addressing the Global Expo Botswana 2018 – Picture by Global Expo Botswana.

Some of the practical challenges envisaged are more on the Non-tariff barriers side, especially for exporters that have been enjoying single-entry market access under the EU, as this will likely to raise costs of production associated with differing market standards, meeting the Rules of Origin requirements, and customs paperwork amongst others.

To this end SACU member states and Mozambique are negotiating an Economic Partnership Agreement with the UK which aims at ensuring that there is no interruption to trade as a result of the UK exiting the EU and thus not being a party to the SADC EU EPA.

It is true that at present there is only 1 BITC office for investment and trade promotion. The Government of Botswana has taken a collective to empower Botswana Embassies both in the UK and Europe (In Europe Botswana has four Embassies; Berlin, Germany, Brussels, Belgium, Geneva, Switzerland; and Stockholm, Sweden) to work closely with BITC on investment and trade promotion. On the same note, BITC continue to review its strategy from time to time, to meet the changing needs of the global investors, hence one cannot overrule the possibility of increasing international presence in the EU market.

What are you doing to connect the country more readily to Europe, the USA and China?At present Botswana is reachable from all major markets including Europe via Johannesburg, with connecting flights to Gaborone the capital, (which is 45 minutes away) either through Air Botswana or South African Airways. The capital city can also be accessed through Ethiopian airlines from London, making a stop-over in Addis to Gaborone.

Minister Bogolo Kenewendo. Botswana. Photographyby BOPA- Phenyo Moalosi

What is Botswana Doing to Connect Botswana to the rest of the World?

First, Botswana has upgraded and modernised its 4 major airports (Gaborone, Maun, Francistown and Kasane) to turn Botswana into a competitive tourism regional hub.

For example, improvements at Kasane International airport include extension of the runway and associated movement areas, refurbishment of the old terminal building and other buildings, provision of airfield ground lighting, provision of the structural electrified fence and airport WiFi connection provided by Botswana Investment and Trade Centre in collaboration with local providers Botswana Fibre Networks and MetroTech.

Second, Botswana has identified cargo and logistics as one of the key investment opportunities to consider. Driven by increasing tourists’ arrivals, Botswana will remain a key regional player when it comes pristine safari tourism attractions, and developments around making Gaborone to be the diamond city as a result of relocation of the Diamond Trading Company from London to Botswana for aggregation.

The Government strategy is to identify potential airlines that could be strategic partners to Air Botswana to consider direct flights as this would minimise the travel costs in terms of both finances and time.

We are aware that China and USA are amongst the major trading partners, but have you thought about intensifying exchanges and relations with countries of similar Success stories? E.g. Slovenia in Europe, Alberta, Canada etc, what countries do we have in mind?

Our strategy for Investment promotion has segmented the markets into tiers, and our approach to attraction is based primarily on lead generation, targeting those markets with High investor buyer appetite, coupled with High offer attractiveness for the following sectors; financial and business services; commercial agriculture and agro processing, manufacturing, with emphasis on automotive components and parts, and pharmaceutical industry; mineral beneficiation (diamond – cutting and polishing, jewellery manufacturing, brokers, financing etc; coal – clean coal energy and coal to liquid; soda ash – chemical industry); ICT (last mileage connectivity; tv white space, mobile money banking etc).

Some of the small countries that BITC have targeted include the Viségrad group (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) given their dominance on OEMs and automotive cluster development. BITC has established some very good contacts in this market and will continue to undertake promotion and image building to attract more business with the V4 countries.

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Photography by BOPA- Phenyo Moalosi

 

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