Afreximbank pledge P20 billion in investment
With Covid-19 hitting the pause button on proceedings for the last two years, the Global Expo exploded back onto the scene in impressive fashion last week.
The event smashed its initial target of 150 exhibitors, with over 200 enterprises, both big and small, from various sectors of the economy turning up to showcase their wares.
Held at Fairground Holdings, the expo ran from 1 – 4 November and brought together investors, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, government departments, financial institutions and Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMES).
As well as local representation, the expo lived up to its Global tagline, attracting international interest from: South Africa, Kenya, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zambia, Zimbabwe, India and Indonesia. The idea was to explore profitable business and joint venture opportunities.
Although Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) is yet to fully quantify the value of business generated and business leads made, key amongst the positives is the unexpected USD1.5 billion (P20 billion) in foreign direct investment which African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has proposed to Botswana as part of the Afreximbank Country Programme.
The Office of the President (OP) and representatives of the Cairo-based institution are to meet to discuss the finer details of exactly what such a deal would involve.
Through the programme, which will run for three years (up until the end of 2025), Botswana will have access to Afreximbank Group suite products. Amongst others, such services include creating a joint project preparation facility which can be used to develop projects and bring bankability.
The facility will be available to SMEs and offer support to highly skilled Batswana mining and agricultural professionals in developing their business and projects.
Shedding more light on what the investment will involve, Afreximbank President, Professor Benedict Oramah said, “We will work with the Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA) to develop 1-2 zones in locations that we will jointly agree; we will support the development and operationalization of rail infrastructure to improve the movement of goods and people to and from neighbouring countries. We will extend support to commercial agriculture for home consumption and exports to other African economies.”
The financing package will also support strategic projects key to Botswana’s economic transformation and diversification plan.
Thus, areas of export agriculture, industrial infrastructure, mining, manufacturing and local content promotion will be funded from the programme.
“We will continue to support Batswana banks to ensure they have access to trade finance and trade services. We will be happy to work with Botswana to create a facility that will encourage more indigenous participation in Botswana’s economy. The facility will have features that will ensure that we reduce the capital constraint to such participation,” continued Oramah, speaking during the week.
Despite failing to attract any exhibitors from Europe, Global Expo Project Manager, Dipopego Tsheko said the event had exceeded their expectations.
“We started promoting the Expo in September with just eight weeks left and a lot of people didn’t believe we would be able to pull it off. We managed to attract a lot of sponsors which is good for the sustainability of the expo going forward,” noted Tsheko, adding that going forward they are hopeful of getting more backing from the corporate sector.
“We have been depending on government funding for the longest time and it has been dwindling over the years,” he admitted.
Praising local businesses for attending in decent numbers, Tsheko added, “Batswana business also showed much interest to the Exposition though they had just participated at the Consumer Fair two months back and we also had a sizeable number of international exhibitors.”
When asked how much revenue organizers expect to make from the four-day gathering, Tsheko replied, “We don’t look at how much money the expo generated but the amount of foreign direct investment which will be attracted to our country and promotion of our exports.”
The Global Expo Botswana was established in 2006 as a premier business-to-business platform to attract foreign direct investment, aid expansion of domestic investment, promote exports of locally manufactured goods and services and promote trade between Botswana and other countries.