Botswana has celebrated its golden jubilee (a fifty-plus years since independence) over the last several years by placing high its pride marks within the global society.
Most paramount has been the pride of good governance and exemplary leadership within the SADC and the African Union. Good bilateral relations have also been fostered with countries near and far and created great opportunities for Botswana to participate in foreign markets across various economic sectors.
In selling Botswana to the international community, a lot of housekeeping has been done to position the country’s value to be harnessed by Foreign Direct Investment, domestic capacitation of entrepreneurship and private sector development. To give a bit of context, at the close of 2021 Botswana was named Africa’s fifth-best investment address by Rand Merchant Bank in its influential annual report, “Where to invest in Africa.”
While tackling COVID-19 pandemic better than most countries has eaten into the country’s foreign-exchange reserves, the government acted fast to devise and put into action the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP) for which it secured $387m from the World Bank and the African Development Bank. These efforts pave the way for attracting private sector investments and FDI through the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC).
Placing reference to BITC continues to fly Botswana’s flag high and has currently done so at the Expo 2020 Dubai in the United Arab Emirates where it attracted investors to opportunities here. The event was themed “Outpacing Progress Through Smart Partnerships” and is living this out. “Mining and Mineral Beneficiation” hold the key to economic progress and is embedded in the government’s partnership with De Beers.
Another aspect of Dubai spoke to Botswana’s innovation and technology under the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.” The key highlights touched on agro-commerce and food security, health, education, technology as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The third aspect touched on Botswana’s rich culture through demonstration of weaving and pottery, among others. Tourism, as one of Botswana’s key sectors, came in as did availability of land.
Many in Dubai asked, “Why Botswana?” Botswana is committed to sound fiscal policies and economic freedom and has the highest sovereign credit rating in Africa by Standard and Poor Global Rating 2020. Investors have preferential access to the SADC and duty-free access to South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and eSwatini as we ll as the European Union and now the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). This is in addition to special trade agreements.
The National Development Plan 11 and the latest Budget Speech in April emphasise infrastructural development in the form of power plants, fiber-optic networks and rail and roads networks. The country’s liberal tax regime of 22 percent corporate tax and 25 percent personal tax is quite appealing while 15 percent exemption to the manufacturing sector and IFSC-registered companies. Two arrangements, the SPEDU region and Special Economic Zones, offer benefits of 5 percent tax in the first five years of operation and 10 percent thereafter.
Expo 2020 Dubai has paved the way for Botswana to position itself for the international market. The conversation continues as we unpack the various sectors filled with opportunities.
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