The South African High Commission has been at the forefront of the formation and establishment of the South Africa Business Forum Botswana (SABF). The SABF gives South African companies access to a vast network of support and knowledge. It allows companies to explore the market and grow their business. The Forum provides an entry point for businesses and professionals and offers opportunities for connection, collaboration and business development.
South Africa remains a major trading partner for Botswana in the region. We value our partnership with Botswana and share vast cultural similarities which bring our two nations together. South Africa has during this difficult time ensured that the cross border supply chains have been kept steady.
In order for South Africa to spur regional growth, we have pledged greater commitment to regional industrialisation and supply chain linkages, shifting more financial resources towards funding projects in the region.
Regional trade integration has long been a strategic objective for Africa yet, despite some success in eliminating tariffs within regional communities, the African market remains highly fragmented. A range of non-tariff and regulatory barriers still raise transaction costs and limit the movement of goods, services, people and capital across borders throughout Africa. The SACU Agreement, 2002 recognises the need for the Customs Union to be aligned with current developments in international trade relations.
As Africans we need to look at regional integration initiatives in order to boost trade. Implementation of the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) is expected to boost Africa’s regional and international trade. Free trade areas have often proved highly profitable for member States. The Common Market of East African States (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) accounts for 72% of intra-Africa trade. This trade is expected to double under the AfCFTA, which was agreed upon by 44 African countries meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, in March 2018.
Business formations and the private sector between our countries should be able to take advantage of the linkages that exists from SACU’s cross border developmental projects to SADC’s regional integration agenda to the AU’s AfCFTA which aims to boost Intra-Africa trade and her competitiveness by allowing diversifying her exports. Trading under AfCFTA was to commence in July 2020 but due to Covid-19, the date was postponed until further notice.
Dear CEO and colleagues, I would urge each one of us to use this period to reflect, plan and reposition our enterprises and companies to ably respond to the opportunities that AfCFTA offers through free movement of business, harmonization of tariffs and other measures. It is up to us to make sure that the world’s biggest single market works for us first.
As we enter a new era, the forum’s support for businesses seeking to expand into Botswana and the region, and for those who have already taken the leap, will become increasingly important and the South African High Commission will continue to work closely with the Forum in this mission.