Producers have been urged to widen their marketing horizon by looking beyond Botswana borders for the markets.
Speaking at the Selebi Phikwe region buyer/seller forum on Wednesday, the director in the Department of Industrial Affairs, Ms Violet Mosele called on entrepreneurs to take advantage of a number of trade agreements between Botswana and the international community as the local market was constrained.
Amongst the countries for product export are the United States of America through the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Botswana and the European Union. “Even as I urge the private sector to take advantage of the existing programmes, I challenge you to find out the 6 500 AGOA product lines and to produce your items similar to those on the list for the American market,” she said.
While 6 500 products have access to the American market, Ms Mosele said Botswana only exported two products to the world’s biggest consumer market in the form of textiles and furniture.
She said it was important for the manufacturers to produce items that use local raw materials such as clay, leather and precious stones.
“This will to a large extent reduce the cost of production and contribute positively to reducing the cost element of your products,” she said. Ms Mosele said given the limited market, the government is an important partner as it spends P15 billion on procurement and called on the entrepreneurs to ensure the amount circulate within the country.
She said the government is committed to enhancing market access for the local industries through procurement within the public sector and the economy as a whole.
“You will agree with me that we are seeing a lot of initiatives being introduced to support our local industries,” she said.
The government has therefore initiated some programmes such as a directive on procurement of decorations, landscaping arts and crafts for public offices.
There is also the directive on the use of locally manufactured goods and services commonly referred to as the local procurement programme introduced to address the concerns of the local industries to the effect that government was not acquiring locally produced goods and services.
The government has through the presidential directive on economic diversification drive directed all procuring entities to go for locally produced goods and services.
While the government has introduced these programmes, the issues of quality and price will not be overlooked she said and encouraged entrepreneurs to produce goods of suitably high standard.
“Government will only procure goods and services that meet tender specifications in terms of quality and price.
I therefore urge you to put more effort in ensuring that you meet tender specifications as this is one of the concerns normally raised by the procuring entities,” she said.
The producers however called on the government to simplify tender documents saying they are difficult to follow thus forcing them to pay exorbitant fees to the consultants.
They also said they do not understand why they are required to make five copies of large tender documents which they say is an expensive undertaking. BOPA