Botswana has promised to roll out the red carpet for investors, urging them not to be discouraged by its small population from doing business in the country because decent returns are part of the package.
Speaking at the official opening of the 14th Global Expo Botswana in the capital city Gaborone this week, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said his country was making conditions conducive for investors.
“The World Bank’s Doing Business Report of this year has placed Botswana at number five in the Ease of Doing Business rankings in sub-Saharan Africa. We continue to review and make strategic reforms to improve the ease of doing business and the competitive environment to facilitate the growth of local business as well as to attract foreign direct investment. These reforms include, among others, the continued streamlining and automation of our processes in areas of company registration, construction permits and cross border trade,” Masisi said.
“We have eased entry into Botswana through the introduction of visas on arrival as well as instituting changes on acquisition of permanent residence.”
The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), a government agency set up to attract investors and promote the landlocked country as a brand, also promised to make life as easy as possible for investors.
The agency said that, among the range of services it offers, it would help investors with tax clearance, company registration and even the opening of bank accounts, saying all these were “facilitated from our one-stop services centre”.
Keletsositse Olebile, head of the BITC, described the agency as a “premier agency for the government of Botswana in terms of rolling out the red carpet for investors ... We’re a country of 2.26 million people.
“Sometimes Botswana is judged in terms of its small population but if you look at every policy that this government has put in place, it’s really to enable you to utilise our long-standing desirable factors such as prudent microeconomic stability, low corruption and the central location in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to really be able to use the country as a launch pad into the whole of the region,” Olebile said.
He said Botswana “doesn’t have exchange controls, you don’t have to apply for externalisation of your funds”.
“We’re also putting together a list of compelling incentives; our tax rate is already 22% but we found strategic sectors that we have further incentivised to 15% – that is in the manufacturing space, international financial services space as well as in the innovation hub space,” Olebile said.
Meanwhile, speaking at a discussion session, former Botswana president Festus Mogae said there were hindrances to integration in the SADC region. Mogae said African heads of states, including those in the SADC region, were signing agreements with good intentions but these were never implemented or even followed up on.
David Magang, a former Cabinet minister in Botswana, reiterated this.
He said the dream for an integrated SADC region with relaxed immigration laws so citizens could easily move from one country to the next was never realised.