The Government of Botswana is ready to support any company that will stage the Formula 1 glamorous motor sport elite competition.
The sentiments were expressed by the Assistant Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Buti Billy in parliament recently.
“Yes my Ministry will give a letter of support should a private company express willingness to host the tournament,” Billy told his peers in parliament. He said the ministry will be more willing to give a letter of support as a way to appreciate development saying the government is prepared to partner with the private sector.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo, had asked the Sports Minister to state which global sporting activities with loyal international fans and followers is his Ministry considering to host in Botswana on an annual basis to lure tourists and revenue into the country considering that supporters travel all over the world to support these activities.
Letsholo had also wanted the Minister to appraise parliament on those efforts to date and whether the ministry has explored motor sport such as Formula 1, Formula 2, MotoGP and others.
“My ministry has considered hosting a wide variety of international sport events including Formula 1 or 2 and the MotoGp. However, hosting such competitions has minimum requirements set by the relevant international bodies and largely, Botswana does not meet these minimum standards, such as competition tracks and other technical facilities, as well as requisite hotel accommodation. The country has so far bid to host competitions for which available infrastructure, ministry will continue to explore the possibilities of hosting these and other major events as the benefit to the country and its people” explained Billy.
Minister Billy explained that his ministry has an ambition to host global sporting activities that have loyal international fans and followers, “but the hindrance has always been shortage of capital investment on necessary infrastructure” he observed. He explained that they have been limited to bid for only competitions for which existing infrastructure meets the set minimum requirements. “The only country that I know of that had wanted to host Formula One is South Africa, they did not have enough facilities to host” he said.
He however told the august house that there are several sporting events that are held on annual basis in Botswana and the Ministry supports some of the events financially and in kind.
“These include among others; Toyota 1000 Desert Race (Mantshwabisi), Khawa Challenge, Kgalagadi Epic Air Show, Mascom Derby Horse Race and Gaborone International Meet in athletics. These events attract international competitors and spectators. The ministry’s objective is to grow these events to the level where they will be in the international calendar, so as to attract tourists” explained the Assistant Minister.
The country had the opportunity to host international sport competitions from time to time when the country has won bids to do so, the latest having been the African Union Sport Commission (AUSC) Region 5 Games in 2018 and Netball World Youth Cup in 2017. My ministry intends to continue to bid to host such and bigger sporting events in an effort to bring tourists into the country, and thus revenue.
Billy observed that hosting major events also helps to raise standards and capacity in terms of sport excellence, administration, general logistics and creating more jobs for our young people throughout the value chain.
The ministry has desire to bid for tournaments such as the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), African Nations Championships (CHAN) and Africa Champions League finals, to mention but a few, provided country is able to build necessary infrastructure and are able to meet other requirements such as hotel accommodation.
“This means that more facilities will have to be built to augment what we already have. Therefore, I implore this House to support my ministry as we endeavour to bring these competitions into the country as part of our long term vision” he pleaded for support from his colleagues.