The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dorcas Makgato-Malesu, has revealed that agreements have been reached for collaboration between Botswana and Japanese companies in the form of formulation and co-production of television programmes for the African market as well as distribution of television programmes.
Makgato-Malesu made this revelation on Thursday when giving feed back of the recent Japan Trade & Investment Mission to Japan by the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC). She said amongst the agreements reached are the distribution of an international television channel to Botswana and other African countries, possible partnership in the distribution of set top boxes as well as television production house.
“Good measure of success with Japanese investors so far is because of positive image of Botswana; there are plans and considerations by Japanese companies for expansion of African businesses to Botswana,” said Makgato-Malesu.
She also emphasized that the collaboration between countries is because of attractiveness of Botswana with high middle income status, security of investment, as well as investment grade sovereign credit ratings. She added that infrastructure developments and also political and social stability have contributed as well.
“Previous efforts to build a positive image by BITC and the reason why we are eyeing Japanese market is for their technical expertise, superior technology, quality of investments and labour,” she stated.
She pointed out that Japanese companies have previously made direct enquiries with the BITC, the Botswana Embassy in Japan, the Japanese Embassy in Botswana, Government Ministries, as well as onsite visits to Botswana.
On the selected focus areas of interest by the Japanese are diamond (cutting, polishing and jewelry manufacturing), mining (copper, coal), agriculture (livestock, arable farming, leather and beef), Waste Management and Recycling, Water Treatment, ICT (television programming) and also Power Generation and Renewable Energy.
Makgato-Malesu further revealed that the private sector had initially 35 companies that expressed interest; 10 companies identified to have the potential to attract interest. She also commended companies for the significant investment they made in participating in the mission such as BCL, Champs Botswana, G4 Consulting, Matsieng Farming, TOB Investments and Pro Vision Media.
Touching on the diamond mining, she stated that Japan Jewelry Association and Tokyo Diamond Exporters seminar participants showed interest in purchasing of Botswana rough diamonds and enquired about requirements for buying rough diamonds from Botswana; procedures for purchasing diamonds from the newly established Okavango Diamond Company (ODC).
“A number of the participants expressed an interest to pursue discussions with Diamond Hub and the Okavango Diamond Company. Areas for collaboration in Agriculture were development of environment-friendly agricultural production technologies, development of resilient agro-pastoral systems and also utilization of Biological Nitrification Inhibition (BNI) function,” said Makgato-Malesu.
The minister also recalled that in 2008, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), opened an office in Botswana. She stated that JOGMEC has been involved in mineral exploration activities in Botswana. She added that mining rights to minerals discovered by JOGMEC would be transferred to Japanese mining companies.
“Japanese mining companies have strong interests in rare metals, copper, iron ore and coal. All the companies that met are planning visits to Botswana for further discussions with BITC, MMEWR and JOGMEC,” she revealed.
The minister pointed out that they are starting to gain traction from the mission with MoUs being discussed for signing between different Japanese companies and stakeholders in Botswana and added that this will culminate in feasibility studies, project proposals and productive investments in the medium term.
Makgato-Malesu is optimistic that by September 2013 MoUs will be signed and experts will be dispatched to Botswana to assist in carrying out feasibility studies.
She emphasized that BITC will closely follow up and ensure at least two projects are realised by Japanese companies in Botswana by 2014.
“Participating government Hubs will be charged with coordinating follow-ups to the agreements reached in Japan. Botswana keen to follow up on projects in ICT, agriculture, diamond purchasing, waste management and mining,” she pointed out.