• Says urgency in vaccine rollout will instill business confidence
  • Calls for more room for private sector participation


Business Botswana has praised President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s latest State of the Nation Address (SONA) as inspiring to the private sector. The organization’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Norman Moleele, says despite having to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of business activity is ongoing even though not at the desired pace. “As you know, government had to divert funds to the fight against COVID-19 but they have managed to get things going,” he said in a phone interview.
“They have attempted to keep jobs and they have supported enterprises with different programmes they had and some jobs were saved. I think to be fair, we need to commend them for helping to get along and survived somehow within this pandemic, something we have never experienced before.”
The urgency to speed up the vaccination rollout is another clear indication that the government is eager to see a fully recovered economy, he added. “The manner in which the vaccines are being rolled out is a huge improvement, considering that we stalled at the beginning. This will give a great deal of confidence.” Moleele said COVID-19 has come as a lesson that the country needed to pursue manufacturing and economic diversification more vigorously.
However, despite the President’s inspiring statement, there is room for improvement. Moleele said Masisi failed to state how he intends to improve the business environment or how he plans to increase private sector participation in the economy. “The private sector has done its fair share and it intends to do more, but we need a private sector that can create value addition, create more employment and drive exports,” he said.
To that end, Moleele called for more dialogue with foreign businesses willing to set up in Botswana. “The unfortunate thing is that when we roll up our sleeves in search of investors, we only tell them what is available in the country instead of finding out what kind of environment they expect,” he noted.
“We still have challenges with issuance of permits and availability of land for developing businesses. We still have challenges in that we have not implemented the regulatory impact assessment and we still have challenges with efficiency in delivering services by different government entities.”
Moleele said a study conducted by Business Botswana on how COVID-19 had affected businesses last year had shown that enterprises will bounce back at different times. Some will struggle to bounce back while others have collapsed and will never come back.
“It depends on the size of business and how it is capitalised because you can see that all the businesses that are on the stock exchange are thriving and moving forward,” he said. “Those in the construction will rely on whether there are infrastructure projects but we are hoping to see a lot of activity in that space after the budget speech next year.”