Botswana will be amongst the 190 countries taking part at the Dubai 2020 Expo to be held on 1st October to 31st March 2022.
The six-month event is the first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, and the largest event to be held in the Arab world.
Held under the theme: ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, the expo was postponed to 2021 due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
Before it was rearranged, organisers had expected 25 million visits during the course of the event.
Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), who’ll be coordinating the country’s participation at the expo, believe this is the right time to position Botswana and sell her value proposition across various select sectors of the economy.
In a stakeholder meeting held at Cresta Thapama Hotel in Francistown on Wednesday, BITC Chief Operations Officer, Reginald Selelo said the Expo presents an opportunity for the country to find means to resuscitate the economy that has been battered by Covid-19.
“We find opportunities for Francistown and surrounding villages in this expo, this also includes towns such as Sua,” Selelo said.
He said the expo gives Botswana an unrivalled opportunity to access a region of more than 3.2 billion people, with a collective GDP of more than USD 6.5 trillion (that’s a lot of Pula!).
“BITC believes Dubai 2020 will help promote and position Botswana as an ideal investment destination in Africa,” he added.
Selelo said they are also looking for a return on investment at the end of the Expo.
“This is why we are working with the likes of CEDA to find if it was possible to expose youth owned businesses to the MEASA market. This is an amazing opportunity that we intend to take full advantage of particularly since the UAE government is paying for some of the costs,” he said.
This is the second time Botswana will be attending this Expo, which is held every five years. In 2010 Botswana attended the Shanghai Expo, but missed the 2015 Milan Expo.
In an interview with The Voice, BITC Director, Corporate Communications Kutlo Moagi stressed their participation at the expo requires a multi-dimensional approach and a concerted effort to properly represent the country’s value proposition.
She said all relevant stakeholders like parastatals, private sector, government and the media will be involved.
“We will also see involvement of our sports, arts and creative industries,” she said.
Moagi promised that BITC would go all out to identify opportunities for local businesses under mining, innovation, technology, food, arts and culture.
“We’re going out to find a market for our products, and create and renew connections that will strengthen and deepen through 2020 and beyond,” Moagi said.
In his remarks, Francistown Mayor, Godisang Radisigo said they intend to work hand in hand with BITC to see how best the second city can be packaged to benefit from the Expo.
“As a city rich in history in both industry and mining, there should be a way we can package this city and position it to benefit,” he said.
City of Francistown Town Clerk, Lopang Pule advised BITC to be outward looking and work with people who’ll add value to the Expo.
Pule admitted that often people who need the expo more are sidelined, while executives go on a sponsored trip that eventually bears no fruit.
His sentiments were shared by Sua Town Deputy District Commissioner, Tsaone Nkarabang, who pleaded with BITC to aggressively sell the soda ash mining town to the world.
In his impassioned plea, Nkarabang noted that Sua Town, which is home to Makgadikgadi, is ready to welcome investors and be unleashed to the world.