- President says aim is to enhance intra-Africa trade to liberalise
- Notes Special economic Zones also established with AfCFTA in mind
FRANCISTOWN: In a move aimed at taking full advantage of unique opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Botswana is moving fast to remove cross-border barriers.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi made these remarks earlier this week when he officially opened the 16th National Business Conference held at Adansonia Hotel here. Themed “Roadmap to High-Income: Accelerating Transformation,” the conference was attended by several captains of the industry. “As a nation, we are working hard to remove cross-border barriers to intra-Africa trade to liberalise our markets and make African products more competitive regionally and globally,” the President said. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-Africa trade in goods and services by up to a massive 25 percent by 2040.
President Masisi said the trade agreement also recognises the need to build and improve the export capacity of both formal and informal service providers, especially Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in which women and youth actively participate. He added that it is for this reason that development of SMMEs remains pivotal to Botswana’s national goals because the sector has great potential to create the much-needed employment, especially for women and the youth.
The President said development of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) targeting particular sectors of the economy such as manufacturing and health is also being done with taking advantage of AfCFTA in mind. “This includes the diversification of the diamond industry where we believe that as the world’s largest diamond producer by value, we should be Africa’s diamond jewellery manufacturing hub,” he said. Last April the government passed the Economic Inclusion Act that seeks, among others, to promote effective participation of citizens in the economic growth and development of the economy.
A couple of months ago, the Southern African Development Community launched the SADC electronic Certificate of Origin (e-CoO) in Lilongwe, Malawi in a move aimed at securing the trading environment to save time, costs and increase transparency. Addressing the same conference, the president of Business Botswana, Gobusamang Keebine, said as Botswana pursues its objective of high-income status, the country must explore different growth fundamentals and policy choices.