Zhao Yanbo, the Chinese Ambassador to Botswana has applauded the country’s plan for economic recovery and transformation in the face of covid-19.
The draft plan which lists strategies for post-pandemic economic development, and estimates that Botswana needs a total of BWP40 billion over the next 30 months to revive its coronavirus-hit economy, was recently unveiled by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in partnership with the Bank of Botswana.
To succeed, Zhao said this plan which points out the right path for Botswana could put more emphasis on four areas, namely, infrastructure, agriculture, tourism and digital economy.
He said this because he believes that infrastructure is the simplest, fastest and most effective way to increase employment during a crisis. Employment, once stabilized, he stressed could contribute to economic and social development. To ensure people’s livelihoods during the pandemic, Zhao said Botswana could also take advantage of its vast territory for agricultural development.
“It should take this opportunity to formulate a modern agricultural development strategy to achieve self-sufficiency,” he said.
Globally, tourism is the hardest hit sector by the pandemic. According to the African Tourism Board (ATB), on average, tourism accounts for 9 to 11 percent of the GDP of African countries. Botswana is among the countries that are substantially dependent on tourism, but lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed in an effort to contain the disease call for creative ways to resuscitate the industry. Botswana has since made efforts to open up and promote domestic tourism.
To reap more, Zhao called on the country to expand publicity to attract more international tourists by trying strategies like “travel online” or “travel via live streaming” and other models to explore new opportunities in the tourism industry.
“This round of pandemic has brought opportunities for the rapid development of digital economy. It can not only offset the negative impact of the pandemic, but also help Botswana catch up with the fourth industrial revolution and build a knowledge-based economy,” he said.
In terms of economic and financial policies, Zhao asserted that this is the time to focus on empowering citizens and reducing the burden for market entities. In the face of difficulties, perseverance, he said, is victory.