New Service Centers To Improve Botswana’s Competitiveness

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To shorten and simplify administrative procedures and guidelines for business approvals

TSHIAMO TABANE

In its bid to improve the ease of doing business and Botswana’s capacity to compete for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Botswana International Trade Center (BITC), last week launched “One Stop Service Center”, an initiative which is expected to ensure that investors acquire government authorizations from a single locality.
Among others, the service center is expected to offer company and business registration, trade and business license applications, entry visas, work and residence permits, work permit exemptions, connection of utilities such as power, water and telecommunications, income tax and VAT registration, allocation of industrial and commercial land and opening of bank accounts.
According to the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry the provision of service at the single locality is expected to shorten and simplify administrative procedures and guidelines for issuance of business approvals, permits and licenses, therefore remove bottlenecks faced by investors in establishing and running businesses in this country there by improving competitiveness.
The Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Vincent Seretse stated that the center will bring significant improvements in the turnaround times for acquisition of government authorizations and improve productivity. “There is a need to improve efficiency in business systems and prioritize the processing of business and investor related requests. We cannot achieve required levels of sustained economic growth and employment if we don’t continuously improve quality of service delivery to boost investment,” he said.
Seretse explained that BITC came up with the center to support investors, in recognition of the role played by foreign direct investment in assisting government to meet National Development Plan economic growth objectives of growing the economy and creating the much-needed jobs.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry Peggy Serame indicated that the facilitation services offered through BOSSC will be made available to both new as well as existing investors in productive sectors of the economy subject to meeting the eligibility threshold of BWP1 million pula and BWP 5 million investment for domestic and foreign investors respectively.
She added that the service center will assist in improving Botswana’s ranking in global competitiveness and the ease of doing business. “The ministry has been inundated with complaints from the private sector on challenges pertaining to the doing business environment in Botswana. Additionally, Botswana’s ranking in international competitiveness indicators such as the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index and the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business have also not been satisfactory. For example, Botswana ranks position 153 out 190 countries in the world in terms of “Starting a Business”. This is certainly unacceptable and has caused major concerns,” she said.
There has been a concern that due to among others, lack of stop service center for investors, Botswana is failing to compete for FDI, with  the 2017 Africa Attractiveness Index (AAI) by EY indicating that when compared to its competitors in Africa, Botswana’s attractiveness to foreign investors is declining and instead of investing in the country, investors are highly likely to invest in Morocco which is the most attractive destination for FDI followed by Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritius and Senegal.
Some observers have however indicated that even with one stop service center, Botswana could continue to struggle to attract FDI, due to lack of business facilitation law.