Mmegi Online :: Another day, another talk shop?
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Thursday 20 September 2018, 12:14 pm.
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Another day, another talk shop?

The Global Expo comes to an end today, providing an opportune time to assess the nine-year-old marketing initiative.
By Mmegi Editor Wed 19 Nov 2014, 15:55 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Another day, another talk shop?








Almost to the day – on October 20, 2006 to be exact – this same column bristled with hope, as the inaugural Expo was unveiled and billed as the country’s premier business marketing vehicle.

At its inception, the Expo was branded as the spearhead of the country’s diversification efforts, a platform where local businesses would interact among themselves as well as with foreign capital and its innovation for greater development of the economy.

“The ongoing Global Expo Botswana that started in Gaborone this week offers hope as one of the avenues the country could exploit to realise its objective of economic diversification,” our editorial of that day ran.

It continued: “While it is too early to judge the new kid on the block, it is in order for Batswana to explore what the event could bring to bolster the government’s economic diversification drive”.

Nine years later, Batswana have ‘explored’ and the jury is still out as to whether the millions of Pula that have been pumped into the Expo have brought tangible or sustainable dividends.

At the heart of the matter is the growing paucity of data on the Expo’s immediate and subsequent success. Organisers seem to equate success with the number of exhibitors, visitors and – until it was discontinued recently – the value of deals made.

However, these figures belie the tangible benefits that local businesses

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are actually realising from platforms such as the Global Expo. The key question that is yet to be answered is whether local businesses are able to extricate sustainable value from the Global Expo and if not, what constraints do they face?

What is known is that the majority of citizen businesses struggle to stay afloat due to a conspiracy of factors such as access to capital and market, lack of skills, training and policy support.

Small, Medium and Micro-Enterprises, in particular, are struggling to gain traction in a market dominated by foreign giants and swept dry by inclement economic conditions.

Even the interaction with foreign exhibitors may not be bearing fruit, given the absence of authoritative government policy actors at the Expo to provide answers on issues such as reservation schemes, citizen empowerment, permits, ICT and infrastructure.

A rigorous and public feedback structure after every Global Expo would allow its organisers to gauge the requirements on the ground and thus tailor the next installment of the event around the actual needs of the local economy.

It would indeed be sad for an organisation as dynamic as the BITC to allow the Global Expo to devolve into yet another talk shop, whose mirage of success dissipates under scrutiny.

Today's thought

“The least productive people are  usually the ones who are most in favour of  holding meetings.”

 - Thomas Sowell

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