- President Masisi notes opportunities to supply cutting-edge equipment, advanced machinery and innovative technologies
The importance of manufacturing as a uniquely powerful economic force that creates sustainable employment cannot be over-emphasised, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said.
Giving the keynote address at the inaugural Local Manufacturing Summit in Gaborone this week, the President said the conference came at an opportune time when the government is intensifying efforts to maximise the country’s value chain development in the manufacturing sector.
The summit was organised by the Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) and took place Gaborone International Conference Centre (GICC) from 1st to 3rd August. It brought together top executives in manufacturing, policymakers, business leaders, and financial institutions from Botswana and abroad. “Please be assured that government remains resolute to facilitate key economic players like yourselves in building this country’s economy for the benefit of our people,” President Masisi said.
Private sector-led initiatives
“We believe in private sector-led initiatives such as this summit because they reflect how the business community can assist in driving the government development agenda. “The summit presents a unique opportunity for us to strategically and innovatively harness the public policy space for enhanced collaboration between policymakers and business leaders for the sustainable growth of the manufacturing sector.”
He noted that the summit was one of several activities implemented by the Chamber of Mines through its Chamber of Mines Business Development Forum. “The Chamber of Mines Business Development Forum’s principal objective is to utilise the combined mining sector purchasing power to attract investment, both foreign and domestic, and to facilitate the development of capable and competitive local enterprises to create jobs as well as diversify the local economy,” he said.
President Masisi commended the mining sector for realising the need to push the agenda of import substitution driven by local manufacturing, noting that because of this, as early as 2014 the mining sector reviewed its position and decided to focus its procurement internally to assist in development of the economy
He called on other sectors to follow suit and support locally produced goods and services in order to enhance Botswana’s economic performance. “This will also reduce our high import bill while also stimulating more local production and, in the process, creating the much-needed jobs,” the President said.
He disclosed that all mining houses in Botswana signed a formalised an Agreement Charter in 2014 which intends to ensure that the participating companies use their purchasing power and influence to promote and facilitate development of commercially viable local and citizen-owned companies and/or joint ventures in Botswana.
It additionally drives cost savings and efficiency improvement initiatives at individual company level.
“As a result, several citizen-owned companies have been established in the country supported by individual members of the Botswana Chamber of Mines,” he said. “To show their commitment to this cause, Debswana Diamond Company and Morupule Coal Mine recently embarked on an inclusive Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy (CEEP) with import substitution driven by a local manufacturing stream aimed at increasing local procurement and facilitating the Citizen Economic Empowerment drive.”
Also addressing the conference, the president of the Botswana Chamber of Mines, Montwedi Mphathi, urged stakeholders to recognise the pivotal role of the local mining sector in the economy. He noted that although its contribution to GDP has reduced from 45 percent in 2001 to around 12 percent in 2020 due to growth of other sectors and prices of minerals going down, the mining sector’s current expansion presents immense opportunities to local manufacturers.
Sizeable procurement spend
President Masisi had earlier noted that the mining sector currently contributes the fifth largest share of jobs in Botswana at 7.1 percent.
“The story of mining and manufacturing started in earnest in 2014 when the BCM resolved to leverage the sizeable procurement spend of its members to develop local suppliers and encourage them to transform from merely supplying goods they sourced from somewhere else to manufacturing and creating jobs in the procurement and supply chain,” said Mphathi. He noted that it was against this background that BCM members came together to form the Chamber of Mines Business Development Forum.
“The forum’s first task was to find low-hanging fruits that were quick and easy to start with before considering more sophisticated products and building off from that base,” Mphathi said. “The mining sector’s rapid growth necessitates a synchronised effort from manufacturers to meet the demands of the burgeoning industry. “As the local mining sector expands, there arises a tremendous scope for our manufacturing community to supply it with cutting-edge equipment, advanced machinery, and innovative technologies and to foster competitiveness.”