Botswana Exporter Development Programme
The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) is the key institution that has been implementing the Botswana Exporter Development Programme (BEDP) in consultation with the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) and other sector institutions. The implementation of the BEDP commenced in 2013, when it was first launched, and continued until 2017 when it was reviewed and evaluated with the support of the United Nations Development Programme. The findings of the evaluation were used to inform the development of a revised BEDP with the support of UNDP. Export-led growth has been a key policy objective of the Government of Botswana and it has been central to its Vision 2036 and national development plan (NDP). The revised BEDP was designed to be implemented for the period 2020 to 2024, with its primary objectives being to develop the capacity of exporters, raise export awareness, build the capacity of export ready companies to comply with export procedures and market requirements, and link companies with foreign buyers. It also aims to target exporter and buyer clusters to broaden the export base to smaller producers that on their own would not be able to meet the requirements of the export markets. In order to promote a more market-led approach, the BEDP intends to harness lead firms to work with export villages to directly connect small producers to foreign customers.
Just like the Economic Diversification Drive initiative, the BEDP adopts the leave no one behind principle as a key guiding principle in its implementation process. As the programme intends to build the capacity of exporters, raise awareness to target new exporters, build the capacity of export ready companies to comply with export procedures and market requirements, and link companies with foreign buyers, the targeting of youth and women entrepreneurs, people with disabilities who are entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in the informal sector is quite critical. In rolling out the implementation, the leave no one behind and inclusivity principles will be expected to be an integral part of the BEDP.
Three strategic interventions that are expected to be implemented during the life span of the BEDP are: 1) Building the awareness and capacity of existing and potential exporters, in priority sectors, through exporter education; 2) Diversifying export markets by linking products and markets; and 3) Promoting a favourable business environment for exporters.
A critical lesson learned during the implementation of the previous BEDP is that it was designed to address border-in issues, which had at its heart the issues of skills and entrepreneurial development. Such capacity development intervention was implemented through training of the selected business owners and their staff, which suggested that the BEDP activities were mostly focused on training thus neglecting other important interventions of the programme including a focus on diversifying the export markets and promoting a favourable business environment for exporters. More so, the importance of research and development, innovation and application of digital technology were not fully harnessed during the implementation of the BEDP. It is therefore critical that these important interventions are mainstreamed and considered in the implementation of the revised BEDP if any meaningful developmental impact through export diversification will be realized and global, continental, and regional export markets fully leveraged by the private sector through an effective and efficient business environment created by the Government with the support of its development partners including UNDP.