Botswana: Covid-19 Presents Opportunities

Gaborone — Business Botswana (BB), Chief Executive Officer, Mr Norman Moleele says the private sector must be at the forefront of resuscitating the economy, even though it was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Giving an update on the business sector on November 8, Mr Moleele said the pandemic had also presented opportunities, with the potential of stimulating the economy.

He revealed that Business Botswana had developed a COVID-19 recovery plan for the private sector, as the pandemic had resulted in the economy suffering sluggish growth, high unemployment, poverty among other challenges.

He therefore said it was necessary to come up with intervention measures, adding that the recovery plan was developed in conjunction with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Despite the challenges emanating from the outbreak of COVID-19, Mr Moleele said the business sector had the potential to recuperate by taking advantage of the emerging opportunities.

He said the five-year recovery plan was aimed at re-building the sector and therefore urged the business community to take advantage of the available infrastructure and any other resources to restore normalcy in the way of doing business.

"All players in the private sector should be agents of change in the challenging environment. Do not expect government to provide everything," he said, however, urging the government to provide an enabling business environment. He cited getting rid of bureaucratic process and coming up with effective systems and simplified processes will stir up the private sector recovery plan.

Mr Moleele said the recovery plan was linked to existing government strategies and development plans.

"As the private sector, we must be the lead in growing, diversifying and reviving the economy," he said, adding that through the recovery plan, the private sector must be the driving force of the development agenda, technological advancement and economic diversification.

He said commercialising the agricultural sector was a paramount component of the recovery plan.

"We must focus more on the manufacturing of goods and opening up of assembly plants. The recovery plan must stimulate entrepreneurship culture," he said.

Mr Moleele was hopeful that relaxation of measures put in place to control the pandemic, like opening up borders, were signs of hope for the business sector.

He also observed that the creative arts industry was among the sectors that were greatly affected by the pandemic, as it was reliant on crowding people at functions to generate income, a practice that was prohibited under COVID-19.

Despite the challenges, Mr Moleele said protocols in place must be followed to the latter as people remain hopeful of a normal situation.

"As we open up, we must be mindful that our health is priority," he said, adding that the entertainment industry, as well as the tourism sector, were at the forefront of creating opportunities for the youth, a group that takes a larger portion of the population and was also exposed to livelihood challenges such as unemployment.

Mr Moleele indicated that the private sector recovery plan caters for the growth and sustenance of the Small, Medium and Macro Enterprises (SMME), adding that Business Botswana has developed a market intelligence information system; a platform which was aimed at marketing, connecting and selling products and services from SMMEs.

He added that an e-market strategy was also developed to cater for SMMEs that were producing goods and services aimed at fighting COVID-19.

Therefore, Mr Moleele appealed to all registered businesses, regardless of their size, to join Business Botswana. "It is difficult to get exposure and grow if you are not known.

Come forward and be part of the campaign aimed at establishing an enabling business environment. Let us do business the way it is done today. The pandemic has opened our eyes and we must emerge from its trials, better and united," he said.

Source : BOPA

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