Sunday, July 12, 2009

H.E.Lt.Gen.Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana, at a Round Table Discussion with the Singapore Business Community

source: Republic of Botswana (11/7/09) TAUTONA TIMES no 18 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline

C2) 22/6/09: Statement by H.E. Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana, at a Round Table Discussion with the Singapore Business Community:

Mr. Teng Theng Dar, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Business Federation; The High Commissioner for Botswana, Mrs Naomi Majinda; Distinguished Members of the Singapore Business Community; Ladies and Gentlemen

1. It is an honour for me to address this distinguished gathering of entrepreneurs. I appreciate the efforts of the Singapore Business Federation in making this meeting possible. I appreciate that in your field of work you take crucial commercial decisions and since in business time means money, your decision to be here this afternoon was not taken lightly.

2. I wish to begin by commending you Mr. Teng Theng Dar and your Botswana counterpart Mrs Dorcus Makgato-Malesu, for having come up with a structured mechanism for co-operation. The Memorandum of Understanding to be signed between the Sinapore Business Federation and BEDIA will serve as an effective stepping stone to a stronger and sustained relationship between Singaporean investors and Botswana.

3. The purpose of my address this afternoon is to invite you to consider Botswana as a destination for your investments. As a Government we are strongly committed to an open economy, private sector growth and development.

4. Since independence in 1966 Botswana made concerted efforts to create an environment conducive to foreign direct investment. We have pursued policies and practices, instituted laws and created institutions that enhance good governance, respect for the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and the sanctity of commercial contracts.

5. Botswana holds good promise for its people and entrepreneurs willing to invest their hard earned money in the country in the full knowledge that they can earn a good return.

6. Over the years, we have taken a deliberate stance of placing a high national priority in creating modern infrastructure for facilitating continued socio-economic growth. In this regard, we have constructed a network of roads, air transport and fibre optic based telecommunications systems, which link Botswana with the rest of the world.

7. We continue to upgrade our physical infrastructure to make it more responsive to the needs of a modern economy. We recognize the private sector as an important partner and a vital engine for economic growth and social progression. We firmly believe that the role of Government is to create a conducive investment climate, while the private sector is responsible for wealth creation and distribution.

8. My Government is determined to continue nurturing this environment which facilitates private sector growth, and enable it to contribute to our development agenda. We continue to work diligently to strengthen the public-private partnership. Our fiscal and monetary policies are aimed at maintaining a stable and predictable macroeconomic environment.

9. The policies we have consistently implemented catapulted Botswana from a least developed country to middle income status it is today. But that is not the end state. Our strategy now is to reach a state of a high income economy. We are therefore inviting you to join us on this journey of opportunity by investing in Botswana.

10. We have among other things developed specific initiatives through focused ‘Hubs’ to drive economic diversification, specifically the Innovation Hub, the Transport and Logistics Hub, the Health Hub, the Education Hub and the Diamond Hub.

11. It is envisaged that the private sector will play a key role in the development of the Hubs. These Hubs have been created to serve as centres of excellence in various fields with potential to promote economic diversification. The various centres of excellence are expected to elevate Botswana’s competitiveness and re-position the country as a cost effective destination of choice.

12. Over and above the already identified opportunities in the Hubs, my Government has opened up many mining and energy exploration activities. We are confident that there is a lot to be discovered and are therefore inviting you to come and join us in this initiative.

13. Detailed information on specific opportunities will be provided in the presentation by the Chief Executive Officer BEDIA. As entrepreneurs I am fully aware that you must undertake due diligence and arrive at commercial decisions.

14. It must be on account of the wealth that will be generated for your shareholders while creating sustainable job opportunities for Batswana and thereby meaningfully contributing to Botswana’s economic development.

15. While Botswana has a small local market, strategic and foreword looking investors can use the country as a base to manufacture products for export to the region as well as to the European Union countries where Botswana’s goods are admitted quota-free and duty-free.

16. Botswana is a member of Southern African Development Community (SADC), an economic block with a total population of about 250 million and an import-bill exceeding US$200 billion per annum. According to the SADC Trade Protocol, which came into force in September 2001, all trade barriers between Member States will be removed over a period of 8 to 12 years.

17. In the same vein, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) which groups 5 countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa) offers investors the opportunity to export their manufactured products duty free to member countries without any restrictions whatsoever.

18. In addition Botswana has duty free and quota free access to the US market under the United States African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Over 6000 different products can be exported to the US market.

19. In conclusion I encourage you to visit Botswana with a view to exploring and assessing for yourself the vast investment opportunities available. Thank you for your attention.

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