Since ascending to the Presidency, Mokgweetsi Masisi has announced himself as the jobs president. This has sat well with many, seeing that we have a great challenge of unemployment.
If he were to achieve that, or even gnaw away at the unemployment numbers, he would surely endear himself even more to Batswana. That being said, he cannot achieve that on his own if the general populace doesn’t come to the party. We all have a role in achieving that, through our actions and influence.
Increased domestic investment and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attraction can play a major role in creating employment opportunities. More investments mean more production and eventually more opportunities for employment for the citizenry.
If we are to help our President, and ourselves reduce unemployment numbers, we need a major mindset change across many touch points within Botswana and amongst Batswana. We must do things differently and appreciate that we can either facilitate for job creation or block it through our actions. We have to start walking the talk.
There are institutions tasked with investment attraction into the country, amongst them Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), SPEDU, Special Economic Zones and other institutions that play in various spaces and do seek foreign partnerships for locals. They will not get much traction, if the status quo remains.
They can have as many business forums, as many international contact missions, as many marketing campaigns – but as long as we don’t match what we promise potential investment to reality, we will continue to struggle.
We can have the most attractive investment attraction incentives, but if we don’t have all the key stakeholders playing their part, as they should, then we will continue to fall below the attraction levels we so desire.
The above-mentioned are all necessary: the meetings, the presentations, the missions, the marketing etc, but they need to be completed with REALITY on the ground. We should strive to match Brand Promise to Reality.
What we say we are when we sell ourselves, is what potential investors should experience when they get here. Does that happen now? Food for thought. We don’t
We need to have a friendly and efficient Immigration system (Permits/VISAs etc.), we need to have a smiling and welcoming team at the country’s points of entry (Immigration officers, Revenue Officers, Security personnel etc.), we need to have a vibrant enabling environment for business, we need to have a lively and agile workforce waiting to facilitate for investment (hotels, transport sector, Investment attraction entities).
These are all different touch points, controlled by different people, and they are KEY to our success if we are to attract investors into the country. Everyone, across different sectors and spheres of work, has a role in creating JOBS, as they somehow have a role in either making or breaking a deal that could create jobs.
Even before a potential investor gets into a board room to talk about an available opportunity and how he can invest in the country, they would have probably either influenced positively or negatively based on what they engage with along the way. So, each one of us plays a critical role in whether an Investor decides for or against Investing in Botswana; right from the Immigration officer at the point of entry, Revenue officer at the point of entry, the cab driver to the hotel, the gentleman assistant at the Hotel etc. all these factors, coupled with the incentives and all will either attract or repel any potential suitor.
Everyone must play their role for the greater good of the country. The different touch points must complement and support each other for the greater good. We are a team: TEAM BOTSWANA, and if we pull together, complement each other, we can create those jobs we so yearn for. Let’s all play our part.
*Thuso Palai writes in his personal capacity.