Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Botswana positions itself for bigger piece of China $60 Billion Africa funding pie

Botswana government is currently negotiating with China in order to come up with a workable solution on how on how both parties can benefit from the $60 Billion Africa loan agreement.

Chinese Embassy Director of Political Section in Botswana, Tang Shenping told The Telegraph that since the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) convened in South Africa in December 2015, both China and Botswana attach great importance to the implementation of the outcomes of the Summit. He said the two sides have held several rounds of meetings to push forward the implementation of the follow-up actions. 

”Although it is not easy as evidenced by the series of meetings, our intention is to see Botswana coming up with a clear framework of which China will take part and advice accordingly on how they can positively benefit from the loan/Grant Funding,” said Shenping. He said Botswana is not an exception as some African countries are also struggling and still yet to commit to the agreement. 

The Telegraph understands that recently the Coordinators’ Meeting of the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Johannesburg Summit of FOCAC was held from July 28-29 in Beijing, China. Shenping confirmed that China and African countries recalled the Johannesburg Summit of the FOCAC, as well as post-Summit progress made in bilateral and multilateral cooperation to implement the Summit outcomes under the framework of the FOCAC. ”Both sides went through intense and comprehensive discussions on topics of strengthening coordination, intensifying efforts on further implementation of follow-up actions of the Johannesburg Summit, and promoting China-Africa win-win cooperation for common development, and reached consensus in many aspects,” said Shenping.

He added that “We believe that through this meeting, our two sides will work more closely to better implement the outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit here in Botswana, so as to lift our bilateral relations to a new level.”   

He said according to the wishes and needs from the Botswana side, China is willing to further strengthen their bilateral cooperation in various areas such as infrastructure, energy, water resources, agriculture, human resource development, wildlife protection, in the form of grants, concessional loans, industrial capacity cooperation and technology transfer. 

According to Shenping “China hopes that these mutual-beneficial cooperation could help Botswana to grow steadily, diversify its economy and increase employment, especially youth employment, so as to bring more tangible benefits to the Botswana people.” 

He added that “but given the number of projects that China wishes to assist, it pains to learn that Botswana only selects Water resources as a major project that needs funding when the country is having problems with Power as evidenced by the failure of the Morupule B.”  

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Botswana, Gaeimelwe Goitsemang revealed that the meeting was successful as they managed to have an opportunity to meet export and import financial Banks to assist on the procedures to be followed when accessing soft loans.

He said the purpose of the meeting was to determine the status of implementation and to see if there are any problems and if any how to resolve them.

”We had an opportunity to interact with different financial institutions in China and even to appreciate the procedures that need to be followed if one is to submit projects for possible funding and the requirements that one needs to meet in order to benefit from the 60 billion Dollar package,” said Goitsemang.

He said they have only submitted proposals for a soft loan funding in the area of water resources looking at the fact that currently Botswana is faced with water challenges across the country. Goitsemang said given Botswana’s middle income status, the country is not eligible for Grant funding but can only qualify for soft loans. 

”We are optimistic that the water project proposal submitted will be successful. Looking at the fact that China is our development partner therefore we are optimistic that the projects submitted will be considered positively,” he said.

But Goitsemang could not disclose the amount of money the country is expecting for possible funding from the China-Africa 60 billion Dollar Funding.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.