Cape to Cairo

The dream lives on

Douglas Rabasha

Gaborone is not a famous internationally for so many things, but can boast having the SADC HQ, one of the newest CBDs, one of Africa’s lowest density capital cities and the soon to be HQ of the Kimberly Diamond Process. But there is another very special, but almost unknown fact about the Botswana capital, it formally sits at the southern end of UNECA promoted 8,540 km Trans African Highway Number 4.

There is an extension from Gaborone to Cape Town that completes the iconic route , but genuinely, Gaborone provides its southern official starting, or ending, point. In other words Gaborone is connected to the massively important city of Cairo. Recognising this fact, the author designed a sign that he hoped would be erected at the Orapa House four-way in Gaborone and met UNDP Resident Representative to advance the concept. And what an interesting concept is was to actually place Gaborone on the Africa map together with the great city of Cairo.

The concept was welcomed by UNDP who tried to take it up with the UNECA in Addis Ababa, as it needed permission to approve such a sign using its logo. It came to nothing, yet there should be enthusiasm to promote Pan African concepts, especially given the drive for a Pan-African Continental Free Trade Area. For your information, according to the UN COMTRADE Botswana exports to Egypt were valued at only $4,070 in 2021 while Egypt’s exports to Botswana was estimated to be $457,077. This means that our bilateral trade with Egypt accounted for only 4% of total bilateral trade. It might be expected that being at each end of Trans-African Highway No. 4 would mean that bilateral economic relations would be more intense, but sadly this is not the case.

This suggests that the objectives of the UNECA Trans African Highway strategy as promoting Pan African Trade might not be very effective. If this is the case then something needs to be done about it. One of the actions, which is of little cost, is to promote these international highways by erecting signs, like the one designed by the author( shown above). So let the idea of a sign being located in the centre of Gaborone be taken up and even another erected in Egypt on the new Cairo to Khartoum Highway (shown right). Given the passion HE Masisi and his Government has for multilateralism, there should be full support.