Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has exceeded their target of P3.6 billion and generated P3.84 billion from export earnings in the 2021/22 financial year - an exceptional performance according to CEO, Kelotsositse Olebile.

This is revenue generated from selling local goods that the national investment agency facilitates into export markets.

Olebile, who has been at the helm of the agency since February 2018 says in the same period, BITC attracted P2.37 billion worth of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) against a target of P1.3 billion.

For Domestic Investment and Expansion, the agency also outdid itself, achieving P2.05 billion against a target of P1.50 billion, creating 5668 jobs against a target of 2000 jobs.

“Our target to create jobs was relaxed a bit because of the Covid-19 situation,” he says.

In the year under review, BITC tops other parastatals in terms of overall corporate performance at 89.7 percent.

“Our excellence performance threshold is when we are above 80 percent,” he says, further adding that across the various measures the investment appetite for Botswana is favourable.

According to Olebile, the Botswana One Stop Service Centre (BOSSC) has experienced a steady rise in private sector utilisation for its facilitation services over the years. The centre started off in 2014/15 with 277 approvals but now in 2021/22 it stands at 1222 approvals, the highest since its inception in 2017.

“Approval rate for various government approvals stands at 95 per cent average from 2014/15 to date. So the situation has significantly improved from where at some point Botswana was known to be closed up, particularly for imported labour,” Olebile said.

BITC has also facilitated 19 companies with investment level of P204.30 million and 1121 job opportunities with land and factory space in and round Gaborone. Two applications were rejected. An additional eight companies with projected investment level of P495.50 million and 1119 job opportunities were offered space.

During a stakeholder brief this week, Olebile said BITC’s focus is on increasing domestic investment, contrary to popular belief that BITC is for FDI only.

“We know that there is a lot of liquidity and earnings that are generated locally, and it is in our interest to make sure that all profits are kept in Botswana as we create more opportunities for the

companies to reinvest,” he said, adding that they have a dedicated strategy to drive that.

Focus is also on opportunities in fast growing recovery sectors post Covid-19 including the ICT and Tourism that was battered during the pandemic, among others.

Olebile said their efforts are also on strategic innovative outreach campaigns and foreign missions to lure foreign companies to invest in Botswana.

BITC is committed to improving Botswana’s value proposition and business retention and expansion.

“We need to guard jealously investors that are already making an effort in our space and therefore retention is a key objective for us, so that they do not end up moving into a competing jurisdiction.”

Their plan is to also intensify export promotion in growth sectors, and carry out targeted outreach campaigns and convert leads generated from the Expo Dubai2020. Further, there are companies that have come to Botswana as a result of interactions in Dubai.

In its 10 years of existence, BITC experienced a sharp reduction in government grant income in 2020/21. Within this year, the agency’s subvention of P22 million was withheld and they had to survive by their own means.

As for the number of companies facilitated by BITC in the investment side over the years, Olebile said it stands at 583. The agency assisted with access to land and factory space, investor permits, licensing and clearances, utility connections, among others.

On the export side, they have facilitated 80 companies with quality management system certification, fair trade certification export marketing plans, and export short courses among others. While 531 are currently being facilitated under the PushaBW HarshTag.

Notable key projects attributable to BITC include Travel Lodge in Gaborone, Kasane and Jwaneng, Selibe-Phikwe Citrus Project that is expected to create over 1000 jobs, Irvine’s Botswana in Mmamashia, Elolam transformer manufacturing company and Sunita Cables, among others.

Among significant milestones in BITC’s 10-year journey is the launch of the initial Corporate Band Strategy and Identity in 2013, Branding strategic areas across the country with the Pride Mark in 2014, as well as the establishment of the Botswana Trade Portal in 2015.

According to Olebile, the portal was established with the assistance of the World Bank, and enables investors to access all information about border controls, and do’s and don’ts of exporting, among other things. The portal is updated regularly.

BITC is also proud that in the past 10 years, they have managed to institutionalise Special Economic Zones in 2016, launch the Export Training Module with University of Botswana in 2017, as well as establishing BOSSC, and the opening of the Francistown Regional Office in 2018, and participating at the ExpoDubai2020, among others.