During this year’s State of the Nation address, President Ian Khama outlined his vision for the country and the measures to be taken to ensure sustainable growth and development in Botswana.
The private sector, and in particular the insurance industry, has an important role to play in helping government achieve its objectives. Economic growth can only be achieved when aspiring entrepreneurs and burgeoning businesses protect themselves against the risks associated with their respective industries.
The Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP), detailed by President Khama, aims to reinvigorate the local economy, accelerate employment creation and promote economic diversification. Key sectors include: Infrastructure, Agriculture, Tourism, Manufacturing and Services. Insurers play a critical role in protecting growth in these sectors. Here are just a few ways in which reputable insurers, who benefit from access to global best-practice coupled with on-the-ground experience, can assist:
Traditionally tourism has been an important driver of growth and employment in the country. Besides being the highest economic revenue earner after minerals, the tourism sector currently accounts for over 35,000 jobs. Under the ESP, government will look to promote growth through strategic investments in infrastructure and tourism projects. Insurance will be important in mitigating the risks associated with these projects.
At a microeconomic level, adequate insurance cover is important for businesses dependent on tourism. The high-risk nature of some activities, for example, paragliding or wildlife tracking, requires that operators are sufficiently covered in case the worst occurs. Similarly, adverse weather conditions, vehicle and aircraft accidents, political events or even the outbreak of uncontrolled bush fires can affect tour operators. Without appropriate insurance cover, this unexpected loss in revenue can have a disastrous effect on tourism players.
A key focus of the ESP is the empowerment of new and existing local players in the construction sector. Over the coming years, government will prioritise smaller scale repair and maintenance projects, with the aim of bringing more local construction and related companies into the formal economy.
Traditionally the problem has been that most SMEs are inadequately insured or not insured at all and, as a result, are at risk of losing their livelihoods at a moment’s notice. Adequate insurance cover is an important aspect of a company’s ability not only to compete, but also to weather the storm during tough times.
Government has earmarked substantial investments in Energy and Water projects. With regard to water infrastructure, government has committed to securing domestic water needs through better management, increased conservation and expanded supply. Concerning Energy, President Khama explained the strategic imperative of converting Botswana from an energy dependent country to an energy surplus nation.
Equal access to water and energy is an essential component to forward social mobility and economic growth. Looking ahead there will be a need for continued investment in water and energy infrastructure. Insurers will have to help mitigate the risks associated with such large build projects, applying foresight and innovation in terms of the products offered and how risks are assessed.
This is where best practice from around the world - as well as the backing of a global balance sheet - becomes an important differentiator in how insurance partners are selected.
Drought has caused havoc on the local agriculture sector. The industry has seen significant losses as unreliable rainfall and a general shortage of water have made farming an unsustainable endeavour. Innovative and out-of-the-box solutions provide the only hope for the current situation.
If Botswana is to stand any chance of boosting agricultural production and ensuring food security, all stakeholders will have to be brought into the fold. Insurers have a particularly important role to play in ensuring that farmers have the support needed to grow their crops. As things currently stand, not enough is done to protect farmers from the risks inherent to the sector such as climate change, disease and fluctuating market prices.
The annual State of the Nation address is an important event on Botswana’s national calendar. It is a time to reflect on the progress made in previous years and also an opportunity to plan for the challenges ahead. As the ESP is rolled out over the coming months and years, the private sector will increasingly be called upon to help support its implementation. As we collectively work towards the betterment of our country, it is important that both the private and public sector are proactive in living their responsibility for the nation’s development. At Zurich Insurance, we are committed to being a partner in this endeavour and will continue to strive for a better and brighter future for all.
By Dziki Nganunu,
Chief Executive Officer, Zurich
Insurance Company Botswana