Gaborone — Investment, Trade and Industry minister, Ms Peggy Serame, says despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are emerging opportunities in the economy.
Ms Serame said opportunities included online businesses, designing and promoting digital technology, healthcare and bio-diversity as well as renewable energy and agribusiness.
She said the country was ready to receive potential investors and committed to improving the doing business environment.
Speaking at the opening of the 15th Global Expo Botswana (GEB) in Gaborone on November 17, Minister Serame said COVID-19 had changed a way of conducting business across the world.
She said the advent of COVID-19 saw the adoption and use of digital technology in doing business become more apparent.
She said the virtual GEB was expected to attract over 100 exhibitors and over 1 000 virtual attendees from across the globe and therefore urged local companies to fully utilise the platform to improve their business prospects.
She said the event was also expected to enhance trade and business relations between exhibitors and their international counterparts.
Ms Serame said building relationships was crucial for companies to be competitive and be part of the global value chains.
In addition, she stated that in September, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that global trade experienced a sharp contraction in activity due to the implemented containment measures.
"This collapse accounted for a decline of over 15 per cent of global trade in the first half of 2020. OECD further projects that global trade will decline by over seven per cent in 2021," she said.
Ms Serame said the decline in global trade was expected to result in severe disruption in labour market, businesses closing down and job losses. Furthermore, she said the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), has projected that global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will be reduced by between 30 and 40 per cent in 2020/2021.
Meanwhile, the Board Chairman of Botswana International Trade Centre (BITC), Mr Terrence Dambe said it was exciting to note that the youth were at the centre of organising the virtual expo. Mr Dambe therefore, urged government and private sector to appreciate and develop innovative talent in the country.
He encouraged local businesses, more especially Small Medium and Macro Enterprises (SMME), to take advantage of the virtual expo to cultivate new and innovative ways of doing business.
He also emphasised that the private sector was a key player in diversifying and developing the economy.
Source : BOPA