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VP lures investors

SHANGHAI - Vice President Lt Gen. Mompati Merafhe on Wednesday pleaded with Chinese investors to set base in Botswana as the country provided a conducive environment for investment.

Lt Gen. Merafhe noted that the country is party to a number of international trade agreements that made doing business with the country easy.

These include the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), The World Trade Organisation (WTO) the Southern African Development Community (SADC) trade protocol and the European Union (EU).

"All these and others enable goods made in Botswana to freely or easily reach the largest markets of the world," Lt Gen. Merafhe said when addressing attendants at the pavilion mounted by Botswana at the Shanghai International Expo.

The expo is held under the theme: "Better City, Better Life" while the Botswana stall was erected under the sub theme "A heritage of peace."

Lt Gen. Merafhe also thanked the Chinese for their commitment to the cause of Africa.

"China's unwavering support to Africa stands out as a glaring example of a great and reliable friend, without whose contribution we could not have overcome some of our political and socio economic challenges," he said.

The collaborative effort such as the Forum on China/Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), he said, entrenched and deepened the political and economic cooperation between China and the continent.

This, he said, is indicative of the Asian country's desire and determination "to continue as a trusted friend of Africa."

According to him, China has become a strategic partner to many African countries, thus contributing to the development transformation of such economies in various spheres of human endeavour.

Turning to the theme, the vice president said it portrayed a relevant message as it promoted the need to improve and care for the environment.

The theme "Better City, Better Life," he said, signifies the desire not just to improve the environment, but also to make it livable, enjoyable and sustainable."

Earlier on, Lt Gen. Merafhe said during a meeting with the vice premier of the city of Shanghai that Botswana was not happy with her reliance on a single export commodity.

"The recent and maybe still on going economic melt down has taught us that it is not a wise thing to rely on a single commodity. You become so vulnerable as a country. That is why more than ever we are talking economic diversification," he said.

The vice president also expressed hope that Chinese companies doing business in Botswana will inculcate some of their culture on the locals.

"And this includes the culture of hard work," he said.

For his part, the city's vice premier Hu Yanzhao promised to encourage companies from his country to consider Botswana as a destination for investment.

He underscored the centrality of economic diversification to development.

"Diversification is the way to go. In China, we have a saying that if something is not working for you, try something else."

(23 July 2010, BOPA)

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