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NBC’s Ghetto bloom

Kabelo Dipholo
  • 400 business leaders converge on the second capital

The 16th biennial National Business Conference (NBC) gets underway at Adansonia Hotel next Monday.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi will officially open the event in the morning, to set the tone for a robust dialogue on the country’s transformational agenda.

The Business Botswana (BB) event returns after missing the 2018 and 2020 editions due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

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NBC is a platform for the government and the business community to meet and reflect on strategic issues to be implemented. This year it is held under the theme: Roadmap to High Income: Accelerating Transformation.

The conference received a P1 million shot in the arm early in September this year, with both Debswana and First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) popping out P500 000 sponsorship each.

According to BB’s Business Sector Coordinator and Conference Manager, Motheo Maje, the 400 business leaders and experts expected on Monday, will for one and a half days craft a road-map to align it with the country’s Vision 2036 of moving the country from upper middle income to a higher income state.

Maje said they anticipate that the public dialogue will explore practical as well as innovative approaches to catapult Botswana towards high-income status.

“Like I said the idea is to have a roadmap that will aid in the realisation of Vision 2036, but we also want to see real impact in the next 10 years,” she said.

BB has over the years been consistent in their emphasis on a private sector led economy, where government only plays the role of facilitator.

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In a report prepared by the Vision 2036 Presidential Task Team, they state that the country is at crossroads, just six years from the close of Vision 2016 that preached ‘Prosperity for all’.

The Task Team notes that although the country enjoyed significant growth from 1996 to 2016, and significant positive changes in the citizenry’s quality of life, there are still a number of challenges.

Some of the challenges stated included weak project and programme implementation, a narrow export base, external trade imbalance, fiscal reliance on diamonds, unemployment, an undeveloped entrepreneurial and start-up culture.

“The successes of the past do not necessarily guarantee future success, the very, components of our economy that have supported us will not necessarily do so in the future,” the team stated in their report.

The team called for a bold approach and deliberate steps to overhaul the current economic growth model, moving away from resource driven growth, to growth based on high productivity, innovation and competitiveness.

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To help the country escape this middle income trap, for a full day on Monday, the country’s transformational agenda and ambition towards becoming a high-income country by 2036 will be dissected by experts and captains of the industry.

Although rewards from this conference are expected to be reaped at least 10 years from now, Maje says the economic activity in Francistown starting this Sunday will be positive for most businesses. “Guests start arriving on Sunday, and already car rental businesses and hotels are in demand.

Some of the big hotels are fully booked, which is good for the industry and Francistown,” she said.

Maje said since inception NBC has always been held in Francistown, save for 2014 when it was held in Maun.

Francistown is the ideal place for NBC, and I believe we’ll be here again in 2024,” she said.

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