Saturday, October 23, 2021

Botswana and Japan: 50 years of trade relations

The Embassy of Japan details the history of the relations of Japan and Botswana, and shows that the first Governmental development cooperation between the two countries occurred when Japan extended a grant to Botswana’s Ministry of Education in 1981.

Notwithstanding that the Embassy of Japan in Botswana opened its first office 42 years after the two countries established Diplomatic relations, the contribution of Japan in the development of Botswana began over a decade after the country gained independence from Britain in 1966. Botswana on the other hand established its Embassy in Japan in 1997.

An area of development which Japan was instrumental in establishing is in the energy and water sector of which Botswana demonstrated a need of. Regarding the energy needs the first Yen (Japanese currency) loan was extended to Botswana for the construction of the Morupule A Power station in 1986. From this initial establishment funded by Japan the Power station has to date undergone various phases of expansion, a development which aims to increase the country’s internal generating capacity in order to reduce dependency on imported power, as is indicated in an investment memorandum compiled by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Later in 2012 Japan extended grant aid, without obligation for repayment, for the construction of a Solar Photovoltaic power plant, which has been identified as a viable project that can reduce the deficiency of power supply in the country particularly given the abundance of sunlight.

In terms of the utilization of the water that is available in the country which could not initially be distributed, the Japan government provided a Yen loan in 1995 for the construction of the North-South carrier. According to a field survey done in 2003 by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) regarding the outline of the loan agreement, the loan amount was 4,685 million yen charged at an interest rate of 2.5 percent per annum over a period of 25 years, however it was granted a grace period of seven years. The final disbursement of the loan was done in February 2001. The survey expounds that the provision of funding the project was in response to the country’s need to develop water resources and water supply as had been outlined in the national development plan. “According to the plans, Japan’s ODA loan was to cover the construction of three water treatment plants, three pumping stations, and three break pressure tanks and these were executed essentially in line with the plans,” cites the survey.

In addition to the developments mentioned above, a significant project which Japan has also supported financially is the Kazungula Bridge and One Stop Border Post (OSBP). “In this regard, the North-South corridor located between Botswana and Zambia is one of the most important corridors for transport. The Zambezi River, a river running between the borders of the two countries, however constitutes a bottleneck to the economic development of the region. To remove this bottleneck Kazungula Bridge Project in underway and Japan assists Botswana in constructing an access road and a One Stop Border Post (OSBP) to facilitate cross-border procedures including CIQ. In addition experts from Japanese Government have been dispatched to Botswana to assist the country in acquiring a technological know-how for OSBP for a border between Botswana and Namibia,” cites information from the Japan Embassy.

Outside of the Diplomatic relations, business relations between the two countries have however not developed as solidly. A delegation from the Japan Business Federation (KEIDANREN) visited Botswana this year to assess investment opportunities. The Embassy admits the limited business partnerships. It is however expected that the visit will invoke interactions between Japan and Botswana business communities.

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