Botswana: BITC Navigates Covid-19 Storm

25 November 2020

When he was appointed Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC) two years ago, Keletsositse Olebile could have never thought he would find himself fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, which is threatening Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Addressing the media recently, two years after his appointment, Olebile said Covid-19 has caused a dramatic decline in Global FDI. "In 2020, FDI inflow will fall below US$1 trillion for the 1st time since 2005; the decrease is worse than experienced during 2009 global financial crisis," he warned, adding that Global FDI is forecast to further decline in 2021 before increasing in 2022.

Turning to the organisation he is leading and mandated to attract FDI to Botswana, Olebile said there is need for investment incentives including doing reshaping doing business environment. On the impact of Covid-19 on FDI and Trade, Olebile who drafted the BITC five year strategic plan in 2018, referenced a study by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which indicated that Global FDI will drastically drop by 30-40%. Areas to be affected by decline in Global FDI include Real Capital Expenditure, Greenfield Investment and Expansions.

On the World Trade, the BITC CEO revealed that it is expected to fall by 13-32% as the Covid-19 continues to disrupts normal economic activities and recovery is also expected in 2021 depending on the duration of the outbreak of the pandemic.

Corporate Performance

Olebile who joined BITC at its inception in April 2012 as Executive Director, Strategy and Competitiveness seems to be doing things right at BITC as the company attained a performance score of 88.1% during the year 2019/20 against an excellence performance target of 80%.

The State owned enterprise was given a grant of over P93 million by government for the year 2019/20 compared to P106 million in 2018/209.

Olebile revealed that they managed to internally generate revenue of over P31 million for 2019/2020 compared to P24 million in 2018/2019.

Most of the revenue he said that comes from properties they own and have rented out.

Investment Pipeline

During the 2019/20 BITC managed to attract P14.6 million foreign direct investment against the target of P200 million and P16 Million domestic investment and expansions against target of P19 million. On jobs created from FDI, Olebile said that majority were realized from the services and agriculture as well as agro-processing followed by the manufacturing sector.

Since 2018 BITC has been aggressive in luring investors to Botswana through attending international exhibition and accompanying President Mokgweetsi Masisi on state visits where they pitched to potential investors.

For the financial year 2019/20 Olebile revealed that they had a combined investment level of over P12 801 050 000.00 and employment. "Companies await various facilitation but mainly allocation of land and factory shells," he said.

But what are some of the projects on the pipeline? Olebile was asked answering that mostly in the agricultural sector. He said the deal to export small stock to the Gulf countries is still on the pipeline while other projects are energy, tourism which include four star hotels in Gaborone's CBD and Kasane.

Another project is Business process outsourcing (BPO) which will be set up in Selibe Phikwe.

One Stop Shop

In 2017 BITC introduced a One Stop Shop whose mandate is to assist and facilitate investors in acquiring all the necessary government authorizations. The BITC CEO revealed that for the financial year 2019/2020 they were 752 government authorizations compared to the 602 in the previous year, demonstrating 25% increase.

On the 15th Global Expo which is supposed to be held this year amid the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, Olebile said that the expo will be held from the 17th to the 20th of November virtually.

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