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Home » News » Business » Botswana courts Dubai business community

Botswana courts Dubai business community

Publishing Date : 19 March, 2018

Author : REARABILWE RAMAPHANE

In a bid to woo the international business community and attract global capital to Botswana, Ministry of Investment, Trade & Industry (MITI), Botswana Investment & Trade Centre (BITC) in collaboration with the Embassy of Botswana in Kuwait undertook a targeted investment and trade promotion mission to the United Arab Emirates from the 12th –15th March 2018.


The Botswana delegation was lead by Minister of Investment Trade & Industry Vincent Seretse. According to BITC the rationale of this undertaking was that the United Arab Emirates has over the years successfully transformed its economic landscape and positioned itself as the economic centre of the Middle East, having attracted multiple investments into the region.


BITC Director of Corporate Communication Kutlo Moagi told WeekendPost that over the next decade the UAE is expected to be one of Middle East's economic outperformers. “Its diversified economy and solid operational framework will see exports and investment continue to drive its growth.” Moagi said, adding that the UAE therefore presents potential for Botswana to attract foreign direct investment and take advantage of opportunities for joint venture partnerships and strategic alliances.  


She further explained that the main objective of the mission was to explore investment and trade opportunities, position Botswana as an investment destination of choice to the UAE business community, as well as facilitate for possible joint-venture arrangements between interested investors from both countries. Moagi also revealed to this publication that a total delegation of 17 private companies and government institutions with sectors of focus in Agriculture, Manufacturing, Mining, International Financial Services (IFSC), Tourism and Transport and Logistics embarked on the trip to Dubai.


“Engagements with the UAE business community were carried out through a Business Conference in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Economy and Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In addition, a series of pre-planned business to business meetings in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi took  place for participating companies to explore opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships with their counterparts in the UAE,”  she said.


When delivering a key note address at the Business Conference Botswana Minister Seretse  said  Botswana stands to learn a lot from the United Arab Emirates, especially in the area of sustainable economic diversification.“We wish to learn how you have successfully managed to diversify your economy, by creating other thriving strategic sectors such as: Tourism, Financial and Business Services, Transport and Logistics, as well as Manufacturing, to name but a few. I have noted the firm resolves of the United Arab Emirates to have 64% of your GDP being derived from non-oil reserves by the year 2030,” Minister Seretse told the business conference.


He also added that given the negative trade balance in favour of Botswana, there were a lot of opportunities for the UAE to export more goods and services to Botswana. He that Botswana currently exported goods worth US$708 million per annum to the United Arab Emirates, mostly diamonds, while the United Arab Emirates exports US$21 million of diamonds and other consumables to Botswana. He encouraged the Arabs to consider locating a production facility in Botswana providing access to multiple preferential trade arrangements, such as the SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), and Southern African Development Community (SADC).   


“We seek stronger strategic and commercial partnerships with a nation that has successfully moved from humble beginnings to become the globally recognized economic powerhouse that the United Arab Emirates clearly is today.  Beyond the partnerships, we are keen to see actual investments happening across our two nations.”


Seretse called on United Arab Emirates Investors to collaborate with Botswana companies in the area of manufacturing and services, including ICT, transport & logistics particularly aviation and pharmaceuticals among others. He cited Botswana’s beef industry saying the country already meets the agriculture stringent requirements of the European Union market and that it was compelling for Botswana to explore selling beef and livestock development solutions to the United Arab Emirates.   


The minister further promoted the country’s tourist sites, “In the area of tourism, I wish to invite you to Botswana’s UNESSCO listed world heritage sites, the pristine Okavango Delta, and the mystical Tsodilo Hills. Botswana with its diversified tourism offering, presents extensive opportunities for tourists, investors and tour operators in the United Arab Emirates to visit, invest, and explore the peace and tranquillity prevailing in the Botswana environment.”


For his part, Vice President of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry Hassan Al Hashemi underscored that Botswana offered plenty of attractive trade and investment opportunities in a variety of economic sectors. “The country has the potential to leverage its position in the region to serve as a gateway to the southern African market,” he said adding that Botswana has taken a proactive approach to diversifying its economy beyond commodities and attracting foreign direct investment.  


He shared that over the last five years, non-oil trade between Dubai and Botswana has nearly tripled to exceed $1 billion in the first nine months of 2017. Bilateral non-oil trade is currently dominated by pearls, precious/semi-precious stones and metals, valued at around $1 billion, followed by machinery and electrical equipment at $6 million, and transport equipment at $1.3 million.


“As one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of diamonds, Botswana can greatly benefit from strengthening its cooperation with the UAE, which has become a major re-export hub for diamonds. In fact, $10 billion worth of diamonds were re-exported through the UAE in the first half of 2017; accounting for 12% of the country’s total re-exports.  Yet, we see huge potential to expand the scope of bilateral trade and investment to other key sectors such as tourism, agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing and ICT,” said Al Hashemi.


He said that companies in Botswana can leverage on the UAE’s strategic geographical position between Africa, Asia and Europe, to attract new visitors.  “These are all advantages that can help us build on existing ties and take our trade relations to the next level.” He said that Dubai’s strong trade relationship with Botswana was symbolic of Dubai’s strategy of reaching out to promising markets of the world.


Al Hashemi said his organization was committed to protecting the interests of Dubai’s business community and providing all facilities and resources to ensure that that the emirate’s ties with Botswana continue to strengthen and develop. Keletsositse Olebile, the Acting CEO for Botswana Investment and Trade Centre said Botswana was finalizing the implementation of the enablers for investment such as double taxation avoidance both UAE companies in Botswana adding that UAE citizens going into Botswana were not required a Visa.


Olebile noted that a reciprocal arrangement by the UAE was being put in place to allow Botswana Citizens to access UAE without Visa requirements. Botswana Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Bashi Gaetsaloe and SPEDU Head Dr Makubung Mokubung also presented on existing partnerships and investment opportunities facilitated by their respective organizations.

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