Africa-Press – Botswana. Francistown is strategically placed as the gateway to the north of Africa and has the apt infrastructure road and rail to link both north and south of Africa.

It was on such backdrop that Business Botswana president, Mr Gobusamang Keebine emphasised the need to change and take advantage of the strategic position Francistown had in order to transform it to the deserving second city of Botswana status.

Mr Keebine was speaking at the 27th Business Botswana northern trade fair in Francistown recently.

“We cannot allow only Gaborone and Palapye to grow and let the second city remain stagnant without growth while opportunity are there to tap on to change it,” he said. He regretted that Francistown international airport was turning into a white elephant because it was under utilised.

“This calls for both government and private to play a meaningful role to ensure that the millions of pula that were used to build this facility bring returns,” he said.

Mr Keebine said some years before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, they had engaged with the American Embassy and brought a team from North Carolina who had showed interest in setting up a truck stop in Francistown.

“Part of the idea to have a truck stop was to have all trucks from both the north and south ending in the city and individually picks and changes to go back to their respective destinations,” he added.

He indicated that the Business Botswana team was working on resuscitating the idea, adding ‘if it calls for us to get a new investor we will do so in order to bring the idea to life as we drive to transform the city’.

Mr Keebine said in next year’s fair they intended to have more of the private sector showcasing and less of government departments and parastatals. “Government organisations can only be there for the purpose of sharing minds but emphasis should be on the private sector to take up the limelight at the fair. SMME’s should also maximise on the opportunities brought by platform to gain more ground that would enable them to spread into greater Africa market,” he said.

For his part, Minister of Entrepreneurship, Mr Karabo Gare encouraged Batswana to take advantage of platforms such as Business Botswana fairs.

“Entrepreneurship does not have age limit hence everybody qualifies and Batswana should go all out to take advantages given to them by platforms such as Business Botswana fairs,” Minister Gare said. He said government also encouraged citizen inclusion and empowerment and had set up a conducive environment for such by bringing in policies that gave Batswana opportunity to participate in the country’s economy.

Mr Gare indicated that through platforms such as the Business Botswana fair, Batswana businesses were given opportunities to benchmark against one another in order to help government achieve the vision to have a private sector led economy.

“We cannot have private sector led economy if citizens are not fully active in it through their businesses. Fairs such as this one provide competitiveness and opportunities for employment not for Francistown alone but for the whole country,” said the minister.

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