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VP Merafhe woos investors

SHANGHAI - Vice President Lt Gen. Mompati Merafhe arrived in China yesterday for a four-day visit meant to woo Chinese entrepreneurs.

General Merafhe joined a team of Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA) officials who had been in China since May when the World Expo Shanghai started.

On his arrival, the Vice President met with owners of the Zhengtai Group: a construction company, which among others, built the Good Hope and Mmadinare senior secondary schools.

He pleaded with the company to help the country with skills transfer, saying: "while we appreciate your contribution in the construction industry, we also would want you to help in skills transfer.

There is nothing wrong with you having a significant portion of your workforce at every position of management, comprising of locals who will at the same time be securing your interests.''

Company representatives thanked Botswana for providing a conducive environment for business, adding that the country provided them with everything they needed to flourish.

"Even during the time when we had difficulties completing the Good Hope project, the country did not kick us out as they continued talking to us until the project was completed,'' Mr Dexiang Zhu, the company's managing director said.

The Vice President was also expected to visit Shanghai Normal University where he was to be conferred with an honorary professorship. Botswana's Ambassador to China, Ms Naomi Majinda said the institution has helped the University of Botswana set up a Chinese language school.

The Vice President will also visit the Hangzhou province where he is expected to hold a series of meetings with business people.

Apart from being home to some investors in Botswana, the province has also twinned with the Gaborone City Council.

Officials from the province recently visited the council on a fact finding mission.

Meanwhile, BEDIA CEO, Mr Jacob Nkate said Botswana stood to benefit immensely from participation at the Shanghai International Expo.

The fair, he said provided the country with an opportunity to display "what is available back home ranging from business and culture to lifestyle'' on an international platform.

"Of course we are displaying the diamonds which are the mainstay of our economy as well as the available opportunities in other sectors in the mining sector such as copper, coal and soda ash.

But we also have to showcase our lifestyle so as to show potential investors the kind of lifestyle available in the country as information on lifestyle is necessary to investors.

When deciding on whether to set up business in any country, the investors would first be interested in finding out as to whether the kind of lifestyle available there would be something that they can put up with," he said.

Mr Nkate said since pitching up at the expo, they had had several enquiries from potential investors.

Among those showcasing the Botswana life on the traditional front were Mogwana traditional troupe and folklore musician Mr Mizer Matlhaku.

Mr Mpho Kuaho provided the local taste in fashion and design with Botswana students studying in China modelling the designs.

Accompanying the Vice President is the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Dorcus Makgato-Malesu.

(21 July 2010, BOPA)

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