Botswana and Swedish governments have committed themselves to continue collaboration in areas such as human rights, democracy, governance, the role of women in development, climate change as well as in new areas.
Speaking to The Telegraph on the sidelines of a tour of the country by a Swedish delegation, Lameck Nthekela, Botswana’s newly appointed Ambassador to Sweden and former BEDIA executive, said that cooperation between the two countries continuse to be realized within the private sector, parastatals and various ministries and departments.
He pointed out that relations with Sweden have also been strengthened with several projects being implemented. Nthekela said they have met with stakeholders in the fight against HIV such as the National Aids Coordinating Agency (NACA), The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) and Botswana Coalition of Non Governmental Organizations’ (BOCONGO).
“My role as an Ambassador is to ensure that Botswana’s interests are taken care of. Where cordial relations exist, my task is not only to continue nurturing them, but also to ensure that such relations continue to grow even further for the benefit of our two nations,” he said.
He also stated that since the beginning of the year there has been a number of positive exchange visits between Botswana and Sweden. Nthekela noted that a delegation from the Ministry of Lands and Housing visited Sweden in May to interact with their counterparts as well as to borrow a leaf on integrating land administration systems on the basis of common spatial data infrastructure including improvement of procedures and work processes.
He said that in the field of taxation, the Swedish Tax Authority has shared experiences and knowledge within institutional development and tax related expertise with the objective to improve the taxation administration capability of the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS).
“Another interesting collaboration is the establishment of Spinalis, a ward within Princess Marina hospital, dedicated to the rehabilitation of spinal cord injuries. Moreover, the sustainable village and renewable energy project at Sekhutlane village is a shining example of providing electricity through the combined use of biogas, more specifically cow dung, and Solar energy,” said Nthekela.
He pointed out that in May this year the Embassy engaged the local Chamber of Trade of Stockholm and held a workshop with the business community, culminating in the chamber undertaking a visit to Botswana to meet with BOCCIM.
“The mission to Botswana was to stimulate female entrepreneurship and strengthen BOCCIM’s working with promoting women in business. The overall goal is to increase trade and business relations between the two countries,” he stated.
Nthekela explained that Botswana and Sweden have a long standing development cooperation relationship since independence in 1966. He added that Sweden’s assistance to Botswana has been through the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). He pointed out that until 1998, this form of collaboration has been in the form of aid, grants as well as through development projects aimed at education, rural development as well as the water supply chain.