Government of Botswana has been challenged to invest seriously on the youth, who make over 60% of the population, to promote entrepreneurship amongst the populace and help curb high youth unemployment levels.
The sentiments were made by experts during the public forum facilitated under partnership of Alliance for African Partnership initiative through Michigan State University in collaboration with University of Botswana (UB).
The Public forum, which was held under the theme “Investing on Youth for the Knowledge Economy”, emphasised the importance of stimulating entrepreneurship amongst the joblessness plagued Botswana Youth.
June Youatt, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Michigan State University, said harnessing youth entrepreneurship is important in diversifying the economy of the country.
She said in the midst of soaring unemployment figures, especially plaguing the graduates, government should consider investing more on the youth to build up entrepreneurs.
“With the country still struggling with serious youth unemployment it is important that entrepreneurship is enhanced and facilitated by government on sectors that accommodate innovation and technology drive as these two aspects are prospects to achieving a knowledge based economy,” she said.
During the panel discussion, the Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) Peggy Serame was encouraged to ensure that the government pays acute attention to challenges that cripple youth entrepreneurs’ efforts.
Prominent among the challenges that Botswana youth entrepreneurs face is lack of adequate financial backing.
Moreover, poor implementation of youth upliftment schemes or programmes also remains an obstacle to effective youth entrepreneurship.
Serame admitted though government formulates good sounding policies on paper intending to empower the youth, the implementation of such initiatives is not convincing.
She said government is drafting the National Entrepreneurship Policy which amongst others will ensure that youth entrepreneurship is fully stimulated, adding that the policy will also speak to leveraging on innovation and technology driven entrepreneurship.
Sport Psychology and Project Leader academic at Michigan University, Professor Leapetswe Malete pinpointed sport as an ideal sector that Botswana can leverage on to promote youth entrepreneurship.
Professor Malete said Botswana youth have huge potential and talent in Sport although there is lack of acute identification of talent from grass root level as per research indicates.
Amongst others, the need for evidence-based research was emphasized so as to come up with solutions that help in curbing youth unemployment as well as new possibilities that Botswana can turn into in its endeavor to diversify the agrarian dominated economy.