Davos-Klosters — Botswana, an upper middle income country smack in the hub of Sub-Saharan Africa is a country known for its shrewd management of resources, in particular the diamonds which have been used by and large to bolster developments and better the livelihoods of the citizenry.
Prior to the discovery of the diamonds, Botswana was amongst the world's poorest countries, a hopeless basket case.
However the discovery of diamonds rapidly changed the economic landscape of the country.
The discovery of the diamonds in the early 1970s saw Botswana rise from abject poverty at independence in 1966 to an economic wonder thanks to prudent management of resources coupled with good governance by its founders.
The dynamics of the economy would however change yet again after some time as a result of the volatile diamond market and other economic shocks.
This then meant the country leadership had a job cut out for them to look for other alternatives to keep the country going.
Economic diversification away from the diamonds became a buzz word and the country has since gone all out seeking alternative economic solutions to a wide array of problems such as rising unemployment especially among its educated young people, currently at about 18 per cent.
In his quest to diversify and bolster Botswana's economy, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has since assuming the reigns of the presidency in April 2018, embarked on a mission to lure investors to the country.
Botswana Press Agency reporter, Mooketsi Mojalemotho who formed part of the press crew accompanying President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland interviewed the President on the achievements of Botswana team at the forum
MM: Your Excellency, you and your team have been here seeking economic solutions to problems bedeviling Batswana back home. Having met prospective investors for the past three days and having led from the front yourself, what are Botswana's prospects to nail it and bring home investors?
President Masisi: Our prospects are promising. As Botswana delegation to Davos our mission was rewarding and we had useful engagements with potential partners that we saw.
So it is real good value for money and I am hoping that I will be bringing a slightly adjusted team in future so that we achieve more on the sectors that we have identified as being critical for our transformative agenda.
We have engaged especially with businesses that facilitate ICT, digitisation, creation of knowledge-based economy and I am proud to say they have demonstrated great enthusiasm to work and help us achieve the milestones that we have set for ourselves.
MM: Can the unemployed young people back home remain hopeful that something positive will come out of the Davos engagements?
President Dr Masisi: The young educated people back at home ought to live with hope that more will come.
Right now we are busy connecting the firms with fibre optic cable, homes and institutions.
We are providing an eco-system which would enable them to get in touch with the world.
On April 19-23 this year, we have Forbes under 30 Summit. The first time it is hosted in Africa and it will be held in Gaborone and Kasane.
This is one of the President's initiatives dedicated to advancing the agenda of young employment where 600 finest young entrepreneurs from across the globe including our very own, will attend, interact and share experiences.
MM: Any captivating moment for you for the past three days of back to back meetings or engagements you had here in Davos thus far?
President Masisi: It was a delight, pleasure and privilege to engage the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
He is intellectually an inspiring man.
The whim and capacity to deliver on this noble idea and bring some of the world powerful companies, civil society and powerful individuals such as the United Nations Secretary General, Antonnio Guterres in one place is quite a marvel.
We are learning a great deal and would do likewise when time presents itself in future.
MM: Your take on the African Growth Platform and Botswana's readiness to jump at the opportunity?
President Masisi: Botswana is ready to jump at the opportunities that come with the African Growth Platform (AGP).
Our willingness at both political and technical levels is unparalleled, Watch the space.
During State of the Nation Address (SONA) in November 18 in 2019, President Masisi stated that for Botswana to create jobs there was an urgent need to roll-out the red carpet for sustainable and impactful investment.
"We are challenged by our market size as an economy, therefore we must come up with deliberate interventions to promote export oriented businesses which will be achieved through the Botswana Export Development Programme (BEDP), the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and regional integration," he said.
The 2020 and 50th WEF, held under the theme: Stakeholders for Cohesive and Sustainable World, endedon Friday.
Source : BOPA