Agence Francaise Development (AFD), a bilateral development finance bank operating on behalf of France, has declared that it is ready to assist government and the private sector in Botswana.
AFD Regional Director Martha Stein-Sochas, who is currently based in South Africa, revealed last week that the financing institution is targeting Botswana to explore possible areas of support in different sectors. She stated AFD’s focus is on supporting economic growth, poverty reduction and job creation. She further said that the other main focus is on supporting climate change projects.
“We have held discussions with the Ministry of finance and we are looking to offer assistance to infrastructure development, transport, energy and water projects,” she said.
She further said AFD is ready to partner with Botswana’s public and private sector to come up with working solutions. She added that there is need to diversify the national economy as it has been focused on few areas.
“We appreciate that the government of Botswana recognises these problems and is aggressively addressing them,” she said.
While AFD has not given out any loan to Botswana, it has declared that it is open for discussions. However, she said, loans are only granted after a thorough vetting process to determine if the projects are viable.
Stein-Sochas said discussions with government are still at a preliminary stage, adding that there are a lot of opportunities for collaboration between AFD and potential business partners in Botswana. AFD financing will also include possible collaborations with a number of French companies which can offer feasible technological solutions.
“In Botswana we provide long term loans at interest rates that are lower than market rates. However, we don’t offer zero interest rate because we have to cater for borrowing cost,” said Stein-Sochas.
The loan is structured and adopted to the needs of the project that is being financed and each case is unique. AFD also does international tenders for its loans using Botswana procurement guidelines.
“We have a holistic approach about building capacity to deliver projects and exchanging ideas. As AFD we operate in 90 countries,” she said.
Stein-Sochas further observed that Botswana has great capacity to develop business strategies and do planning. She stated that Botswana has a solid foundation in terms of governance and a good business environment to build on. Similarly, she said, France has a transparent frame work that presents good opportunities from both countries to make things happen.
AFD also provides mentoring services as it does regular checkups after funds have been disbursed and the project implemented.