Consumers urged to buy locally produced goods
This week marked the official launch of the inaugural Buy Botswana Thought Leadership Expo which was held at Travel Lodge, Gaborone.
The expo primarily sought to reduce the number of imported goods consumed by Batswana through promoting locally produced products to the general public.
The timing of the initiative has left some perplexed as it coincides with a year in which Botswana recorded a favourable trade surplus of P67.9 million indicating that imports in fact exceeded exports throughout the financial year ended August 2016.
As welcome as this development is, it should not lull the public into a sense of false complacency as just as recent as last year, Botswana had a trade deficit of P203.30 million – an alarming figure for local service providers, manufacturers and the community at large.
It is for this reason that the expo looked to inform the public on the significance of buying locally in order to stimulate economic growth and provide sustainable avenues of employment, for the onus is on the entirety of the population to develop at a more rapid pace.
The concern is that consumers tend to bypass locally produced milk, biltong, fizzy drinks and a other products in favour of more international brands at the detriment of the economy.
Guest speaker, Eustace Mashimbye – a representative of the popular “Proudly South African” campaign which seeks to endorse South African products, attributed the disinclination of purchasing local products to the misconception that local means “cheap and of low quality”.
He urged local consumers to dispel these notions as with proper quality checks in place, not much differentiates local products with imported ones. He went on to further assert that every foreign product purchased in Botswana is effectively creating and sustaining a job elsewhere at the expense of Batswana.
“The Proudly South African campaign was put in place at the time to make sure that we drive up the demand for local products and services. Those companies that produce those products have a higher demand and so are forced to produce more. In those instances as demand grows for products, those companies are then obligated to employ more to cater for the [increased] demand.” He elucidated.
Botswana primarily imports fuel, food, beverages, machinery and electric equipment – primarily from South Africa, Namibia, China, Belgium and Israel.
It is high time we stop feeding other nations while unemployment runs strife and the economy remains undiversified in Botswana.
Local companies present at the expo included; Just Ginger, Earth Vitamins, Lithoflex and a myriad of others.