He cited transport, energy and communications’ hub as well as global centre for mineral beneficiation, finance, tourism and innovation. In his State-of-the-Nation Address on November 4, the President said notwithstanding the uncertainties that had afflicted international markets since 2008/09, Botswana had been recovering having enjoyed positive growth rates since the 2010/11 financial year.
“This upturn is driven by expansion in non-mining sectors such as manufacturing, finance, transport, construction, and tourism as well as other services. Taken together this is encouraging evidence of diversification,” he said.
President Khama however said the energy, agriculture and mining sectors continued to experience constraints and subdued growth. “While the recent positive outlook in the global economy is expected to strengthen the mining sector, recurring droughts and animal disease remain a constraint to agriculture,” he said.
The President said the economy registered a 3.6 per cent growth during 12 months through March 2013, reflecting a 5.2 per cent increase in non-mining GDP while the mining sector contracted by 6.1 per cent. “
"As global prospects improve, our own economy is expected to benefit from increased export demand,” he said, adding the world economy was projected by the IMF to grow by 2.9 per cent and 3.6 per cent in 2013 and 2014 respectively, with modest expansion in both advanced and developing economies.
He said the local economy was projected to grow by just over four per cent in 2013 and 2014 although continued Euro zone uncertainties, drought and animal disease outbreaks, as well as water shortage pose significant threats.
The average national inflation rate had been decreasing from 8.5 per cent in 2011 to 7.5 per cent in 2012 and continued to drop this year down to 5 per cent in September this year which was within the Bank of Botswana’s medium-term objective range of 3-6 per cent.
President Khama said economic growth had been accompanied by a net expansion in job numbers although not enough to absorb all those seeking employment. He said as of 2012 unemployment (18 and over) stood at 17.5 per cent, down from 23.5 per cent at the beginning of 2007.
“To further augment efforts to reduce unemployment, Government in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) is currently formulating a National Employment Policy, to provide for better coordination of existing employment-intensive investments,” he said.
Talking about the budget, President Khama said the government ran budget deficits due to the 2008/09 recession but committed itself to a balanced budget from 2012/13 financial year onwards to rebuld reserves and pay off debts.
He said the National Development Plan (NDP) 10 Mid-Term Review identified priority areas as well as policies and strategies for driving development initiatives during the remaining period of NDP 10.
President Khama said in addition to poverty eradication, other priorities include the achievement of inclusive, broad-based economic growth for employment creation and food security.
Another area is improved education and skills development to better match vocational demands and environmental sustainability for ‘green growth’.Improved child and maternal health, empowerment of women and young people and strengthening support for vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, the elderly and orphans are other priority areas,
Saab is now represented in South Africa, Kenya and Botswana in Sub Saharan Africa and is looking at other African countries to have Saab representation. The group sees big opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, having already done business in Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Ghana and Angola.
“Botswana has been selected as the third [African] country to open an office in due to its transparent business environment and solid business opportunities for various products in the Saab portfolio,” said Jerker Ahlqvist, who will be heading up the Saab office in Botswana.
Ahlqvist explained that the office in Botswana has primarily been established to provide a hub for Saab to increase its presence to market its products and to play a role in further strengthen the relationship between Sweden and Botswana.
One of Saab’s main goals is to grow and break into the Sub-Saharan region. With the growing economy in Africa this expansion has been made all the more important. This is also in line with Saab’s establishment of its ‘Market Area Concept’ which consolidates the markets in which the company is active, Saab said.
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“With the establishment of the market areas, Saab is expanding on all continents. With the growing economies in many countries in Africa there is a growing demand for defence and security products – and hence, a demand for Saab products.”
For instance, Saab hopes to sell its Skeldar unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Africa, especially for things like anti-poaching, anti-piracy and peacekeeping operations – the United Nations began operating UAVs in the Democratic Republic of Congo last year.
At the beginning of last year Saab established the two new market areas of Europe & Greater Middle East and Nordic & Baltic, joining its other four market areas. Saab is focusing on increasing its international presence outside of Sweden in order to create profitable and long-term growth. The company recently announced it was expanding its activities in the naval domain and recruiting new employees, especially for the fields of electronic systems and electronic warfare.
Saab has a wide variety of aerospace and defence products on offer, including a range of throwable tactical UAVs, the Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, RBS 70 surface-to-air missile, maritime and airborne early warning aircraft (based on the Saab 340 and 2000), soldier training systems, land vehicle and aircraft self-protection systems, air traffic management systems, radars and more.
One of its most successful products is the Gripen fighter jet, which is being offered in the most recent Gripen E version. According to the head of the Aeronautics division of Saab, Lennart Sindahl, Saab has received interest in the Gripen from Botswana. Botswana has also expressed interest in buying FA-50 light fighters from South Korea.
Saab hopes to sell between 300 and 450 Gripen C/D/E aircraft over the next 20 years for a 10% share of the global market. Saab said that, apart from being a highly capable aircraft, the Gripen's chief selling point is its affordability, in terms of development, acquisition, operation, and through-life sustainment, which makes it ideal for countries like Botswana and South Africa.
One prominent field Saab has experience with in Africa is camp building for peacekeeping operations, having assisted the African Union and the United Nations on the continent. One mission has seen Saab setting up a complete turn-key camp solution in the horn of Africa. The company has also provided maintenance, repair and overhaul activities for vehicles, generators, water purification plants, air-conditioning units and patrol boats.
In South Africa, Saab is offering soldier training systems, maritime surveillance aircraft, vehicle protection systems and radars to the South African National Defence Force and provides support to the Air Force’s Gripen fleet.
Although Africa is a promising emerging defence market, analysts have cautioned that the continent is a difficult market with little money and complex or poorly defined requirements.