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BITC restrains targets amidst COVID-19 crunch

PAULINE DIKUELO
Muted hopes: Selelo is still eyeing a positive year for investment promotion and exports
The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has decided to maintain, rather than review, its investment promotion and job creation targets this year, as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic wreaks havoc with its activities.

Annually, the BITC, which is the country’s lead agency for attracting investment and promoting exports, increases its targets by a minimum of 10%. For the current financial year, which began in April, the BITC will keep to the same targets it had last year, executives said on Tuesday. In the year ended March 2020, the BITC attracted foreign direct investment worth P1.4 billion against a target of P2 billion. Further, the centre registered P1.6 billion in domestic investments against a target of P1.9 billion.

At least 4,288 jobs were created in the year to March 2020, against a target of 3,380.

BITC chief operations officer, Reginald Selelo told BusinessWeek the agency had to re-look its target estimates due to the uncertainty brought by COVID-19.

“We are living in an era of radical uncertainty,” he said. “When the year started, we had our estimates but because of COVID-19, we had to re-look our figures to find out if we can still draw the numbers we

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were expecting before the virus.”

Each year, the BITC conducts inward and outward missions to attract investment to Botswana, while at the same time working with local businesses to promote their expansion and exports. This year, borders closed in March, while most local businesses have spent the year struggling to stay afloat, as demand has collapsed.

However, Selelo said, BITC continues to promote investment and the organisation has been granted a channel by government allowing it to continue its investment promotion activities to an extent, while also helping local businesses develop their export potential.

“Because of the travel restrictions, we continue to see challenges in terms of investment and exports and the global supply chain has been affected heavily by COVID-19. Inter-connectivity of goods and regional supply chains have been affected heavily, and flights are few,” Selelo said.

The BITC expects that going forward its efforts will be skewed towards domestic investment and expansion, which have the potential to create more employment.



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