The Botswana National Informal Sector Recovery plan launched- Opportunity to build-back-better

March 22, 2021

(L-R) Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary (EDD), Ms Moipedi Nkoane; Hon. Minister (MITI) Peggy O. Serame; Jacinta Barrins, UNDP, Resident Representative

Speech by Jacinta Barrins, UNDP, Resident Representative on the occasion of the Launch of the Informal Sector Recovery Plan

Gaborone- The Botswana National Informal Sector Recovery Plan (ISRP) was launched on the 16th March 2021 in Gaborone. Speaking at the launch, the UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Jacinta Barrins said, “As part of responding to the early days of Covid- 19 in Botswana UNDP together with other UN agencies supported the development of three Covid – 19 Recovery Plans for  the Private Sector, Social Protection and  the Informal Sector”.  She also indicated that as a global development organization, UNDP sees this plan as an opportunity to build-back-better from Covid -19 and emerge from it stronger.

UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Jacinta Barrins

Ms. Barrins said that although the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on different sectors and groups, the informal sector has been disproportionately affected. This is against the background of the high level of importance of the informal sector to the economy.

It is estimated that globally, the informal sector employs 61% of the working-age population (2 billion workers). Iternational Labor Organisation (ILO) estimates that in Sub-Saharan Africa, the informal sector accounts for 86% of men and 92% of women in employment. In Botswana, the informal sector employs as many as 191,000 people. However, most of these workers are not covered by social protection, hence their increased level of vulnerability during shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UNDP Resident Representative added that, “As UNDP, we are happy and proud to have rendered support during the critical time to analyse the impact of the pandemic as part of developing the Plan.” She said that the analyses showed that the initial government Covid -19 relief plan was geared towards wage subsidies and financial relief benefitting formal businesses. It became clear that the informal sector had become the ‘missing middle’ both in terms of policy making and the economic response.  

Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Hon. Peggy O. Serame

For her part, the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Hon. Peggy O. Serame said that the plan seeks to provide mechanisms for the informal sector businesses to respond to the effects of COVID-19. Even more importantly, it is through the plan sustainable measures will be developed to overcome similar shocks by addressing the challenges facing the informal sector. Therefore, the Plan rests on two strategic goals; Establishment of Informal Sector Facilitation Structures and Economic Revitalization of the Informal Sector

Minister Serame highlighted that the launch of the plan was to create awareness among the key stakeholders in Government, private sector, civil society and development partners. Serame said her ministry is in the process of reviewing the SMMEs guidelines, policies and relevant strategies to facilitate informal sector development. Regarding the implementation of the recovery plan, the Minister said that the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) has been designated as the organisation to lead the activities to realise the objectives of the plan.

Simon Molefi from the informal sector earns a living by fixing shoes in Gaborone