President Mokgweetsi Masisi spent the whole of last week with a delegation of over 50 government officials signing and agreeing on a grant that also led to the cancellation of a previous P80 million loan the country had with China. In an interview with The Botswana Gazette, the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Unity Dow confirmed that indeed the People’s Republic of China has given Botswana an interest free grant in the sum of P340 million.
In a report availed to this publication, the grant shall be utilized to implement projects to be agreed upon through consultation between Botswana and China. The grant has benefits for Botswana, one of them being the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on visa exemption for Diplomatic and Official passport holders, which will serve to facilitate the movement of people between the two countries.
Botswana and China together with other African states will continue to encourage and support investment, reduce investment barriers, and cooperate towards the negotiation, signing, renewal and implementation of a Bilateral Investment Treaty, and to put in place a more enabling environment for mutual investment. China will encourage Chinese companies to increase investment in Africa, build and upgrade a number of economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa and will drive Chinese companies to make at least US$ 10 billion in investment in Africa over the coming three years, support Chinese companies in Africa to forge alliance of corporate social responsibilities and support Africa’s efforts to harmonize policies, laws and regulations pertaining to private sector investment in regional projects.
China has undertaken an MoU on cooperation in Human Resource Development, which will facilitate capacity building in all areas of human resources development. Within the details of the MoU, Africa commends China’s efforts in providing degree education and government scholarships, promoting exchanges and cooperation in culture. As a result, China will carry out a tailor-made program to train 1000 high caliber student and provide Africa with 50 000 government scholarships and 50 000 training opportunities for seminars and workshops and train more professionals of different disciplines across Africa.
China will continue to support Chinese language teaching in African countries by sending more Chinese teachers and volunteers, donating textbooks and teaching materials in Chinese, providing Confucius Institutes scholarships and training more local Chinese language teachers. The two sides have taken note of the smooth progress and notable results of the UNESCO-China Funds in trust, and will also support its continued implementation and have it extended for an additional four years (2018-2021).
Botswana and China also signed an MoU on Economic, Trade and Technical Cooperation which will serve to enhance economic trade and technical cooperation in critical sectors. The document revealed that in view of the challenges in Africa of food security and the need for increase in food production, China aims to support Africa in enhancing productive capacity in agriculture, which comprises of the promotion of high-tech food production and agro-processing. The two sides will encourage sustainable agriculture and organic farming through enhanced food security and environment which include the use of renewable energy and water savings system to reduce production cost and increase resilience to climate change.
China will, under the China -Africa Regional Aviation Cooperation Program, provide regional aircraft for civilian use, train aviation professionals for Africa, provide capacity building to enable compliance with ICAO standards and recommended practices and support Chinese companies in setting up joint ventures with African airlines and African businesses as well as participating in the building of airports and other auxiliary infrastructure to advance Africa’s regional aviation.
China will support Africa in developing the Single African Air transport Market. The two sides will support each other in the goal of aviation market access, the realization of the Single African Air Transport Market, a flagship project of AU Agenda 2063 and the opening of more air routes and sea lanes connecting China and Africa by Chinese and African airlines and shipping companies as appropriate.
Dow made it clear that China has formulated laws to prohibit the importation of ivory into China. China’s interest in African tourism is to have more African countries becoming destinations for Chinese tour groups. The two sides will roll out visa facilitation policies as appropriate and streamline customs procedures to enable easier traveling so that mutual tourist visits can steadily increase.
The agreements aim to encourage capacity building and training exchange programs for employees of the tourism industry and industry partners to improve quality of service. The two sides will collaborate in enhancing infrastructure relevant to development of the tourism industry in Africa including promotion of cruise tourism and stop overs in African countries.