Botswana’s long walk to attracting FDI

APA-Gaborone (Botswana)

Nine years ago, Botswana embarked on an investment drive to attract investors into the country.

The mission was not an easy one; the country’s investment-lobbying company, the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), had to deal with the government’s bureaucratic and red tape policies and laws.

Stringent visa, residents and work permits requirements, have been cited as some of the headaches for foreign investors and traders wishing to do business in the country as the trade and industry, labour and home affairs ministries drag their feet in the review of existing laws and policies.

Even President Mokgweetsi Masisi has admitted that the policies and laws are a hindrance and has agreed to relax some of them.

Masisi said relaxing visa requirements is part of his administration's efforts to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).

Reports indicate that Botswana tightened its immigration laws between 2010 and 2013, which resulted in many foreign operators failing to apply for or renew their residence and work permits.

While admitting that the country’s investment drive has faced challenges, BITC chief executive Keletsositse Olebile told APA that the situation has improved slightly since last year.

“For all the things that we are doing and all the markets that we are cultivating, we believe that we should also see turnaround in the next year,” he said.

He cited Masisi’s call and involvement in FDI strategies, which he said had reinvigorated focus on Botswana.

He revealed that in the last financial year, BITC managed to secure US$300 million worth of FDI and US$180 million domestic investment.

According to Olebile, Botswana continues to face stiff competition for FDI in the region and internationally, a development that curtails some of BITC’s investment decisions and markets.

But he was optimistic that the current opening of regulatory spaces and policies would improve opportunities for more investment impact.

BITC director of investment promotion Malebogo Morakaladi said the centre would continue to target highly liquid economies such as Dubai and Qatar for investment opportunities that would diversify the economy.

Established in 2012 by an Act of Parliament, the BITC is mandated with facilitation of both foreign and domestic investment, employment creation and export earnings value, among others.


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