An evaluation of the citizen contractor development component of the citizen empowerment policy in Botswana

Kobole, Shadrack Chilume
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The Government of Botswana, since independence in 1966 has initiated several schemes in a bid to support and development its local construction Industry. In 1975 the Government established Botswana Enterprises Development Unit (BEDU) with the assistance of international donor agencies. The Government realised that sustainable development would based on meaningful participation of citizens in private sector, by engaging in greater agricultural production, by increasingly become engaged as businessmen in trade, in manufacturing and I providing an expanding services. BEDU was responsible for introducing the then new concept of local entrepreneurship. Development of local human resource and localisation was one of the priority objectives of the Botswana Enterprises Development Programme. In 1975 BEDU replicated Kenya’s NCC (National Construction Corporation) a small contractor development agency, just like the Kenyan NCC BEDU did not achieve much of the set objectives. In the 1980’s the Government of Botswana formulated preferential schemes that favoured and protect citizen contractor against foreign construction companies. Despite government‘s commitment to citizen contractor empowerment, there have been reports of poor performance by citizen contractors. Between 2001 and 2005, 93 per cent of public projects undertaken by citizen contractors had cost and time overruns, 16 per cent of the 187 projects investigated had been abandoned. The Government had to spend over P 70, 000,000:00 (seventy million Pula) to get these projects completed by others. There is strong evidence that Botswana as a developing country has a potential of utilising the infrastructure development projects for the benefit of socio-economic development by engaging meaningful participation of citizen in the construction industry. The existing available data was analysed as an attempt to establish the cause of failure and what should be done to improve the prevailing situation. iii The Literature review has revealed good examples of countries that have embarked on a long-term indigenous construction industry development as national project and have successfully achieved their set objectives. Botswana can learn from countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and its neighbouring state South Africa on how to set up an appropriate Construction development programme.