Masisi woos US investors

Charm offensive: Masisi is on the hunt for greater FDI and skills transfer PIC.KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Charm offensive: Masisi is on the hunt for greater FDI and skills transfer PIC.KENNEDY RAMOKONE

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says despite COVID-19, Botswana remains the continent’s number one choice for investors, providing the promise of security and returns that exceed its peers.

Masisi was speaking at the US-Africa Business Summit on Wednesday, attended by more than 1,000 delegates who included other African heads of state, US government authorities and captains of US and Africa’s private sector. Botswana was one of only two African countries that secured slots at the Summit to present their investment proposals directly to investors.

Masisi laid out Botswana’s investment case for the US, highlighting that the country is hunting for partners to develop vaccine manufacturing for COVID-19 and other drugs.

“Now come on, if you want your money to grow, goods produced, supply routes assured, to headquarter your systems, this is the natural place,” he said in response to questions after his official speech. “It goes without saying. “Botswana is the best place to put your money, COVID-19 or not. “It’s a place that you can put your money and know it will come out much more than what you put in.”

Masisi said Botswana enjoyed enduring peace and stability, adding that its central position in the region made it pivotal in the movement of goods across the region and beyond. He said Botswana shared many US values encapsulated in the 'American Dream' and was focussing on driving growth through the value addition of its resources.

“We dialogued and came up with a national long term vision, which was inclusive in its development and the running theme and intention is to transform Botswana to become a knowledge-based economy, achieve high-income status and have a more equitable distribution of wealth, which therefore leads to health, peace and others,” he said. “The ideals of the 'American Dream' are in our long term vision. This is what we want for our people. “We want to invite you to come and share this dream of ours.”

US-based delegates responding in real-time to Masisi's presentation praised Botswana's investment climate and made pledges to seek out investment opportunities.

"I applaud and commend the leadership and people of Botswana for maintaining peace, stability, prosperity in their beloved homeland and the region," wrote Christopher Jackson, president of the Africa New England Chamber of Commerce. "The Africa New England Chamber of Commerce, based in Boston, Massachusetts eagerly looks forward to future collaborations in the private sector."

Botswana’s trade with the US has declined over the years, with local enterprises failing to fully utilise the duty and quota-free provisions of the African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA). Botswana Investment and Trade Centre CEO, Keletsositse Olebile told the Summit that in 2020, Botswana exported goods worth $175 million to the US and in turn imported $48 million worth of commodities, adding that the trend in trade had been slipping since 2017.

“Part of the reason is the low investment levels by US investment businesses in Botswana,” he said. “We have to start by cultivating that positive investment in Botswana so that over time there is trade between the two of us.”

Other senior government officials presented opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, mining and pharmaceuticals.

Editor's Comment
A Call For Government To Save Jobs

The minister further shared that from the 320 businesses that notified the Commissioner of Labour about their plans to retrench, 20 were acceded to, which resulted in 204 workers being retrenched during April 2020 and July 2021.The retrenchments were carried out while the SoE was in place, meaning the companies that succeeded must have had solid reasons, despite the strict SOE regulations imposed on businesses to not retrench. We are left with...

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