Francistown mayor, James Kgalajwe and his delegation recently returned from a trip in the United States of America (USA) where they toured several cities in that country in an effort to lure investors. The visit was part of efforts by Francistown City Council (FCC) to realize its vision of turning the city’s fortunes around and transforming it into an investment hub by 2022.
Currently there are fears that lack of investment and proper infrastructure, coupled with high rates of poverty, unemployment and crime will turn the city into a ghost town. During the visit, Kgalajwe and his delegation also signed a twinning agreement with the city of Daven Port in the United States of America. Through the agreement, the two cities will cooperate in the fields of education, economic development, environment education, cultural exchange and community development.
In an interview with Sunday Standard last week, Kgalajwe said the visit was fruitful as they met a number of investors who showed interest in investing in Francistown.
“Our first destination in the USA was Washington DC where we met with the Black Caucus, which is a group of black women investors. We had made arrangements with Botswana’s ambassador in the USA, Tebelelo Seretse to coordinate the meeting and it was a huge success. The investors were easily accessible and more than happy to meet us,” said Kgalajwe.
He added that they discussed possibilities of the American women investors empowering Francistown business women with skills and helping them to access markets for their products in the USA. The delegation also marketed the vision of Francistown and told the Americans about existing opportunities in the city. They also met with Batswana businesswomen who are living in the USA, who also pledged to help market the city abroad.
“We also visited the city of Daven Port in the State of Iowa where we signed a twinning agreement with the mayor, Bill Gluba. He promised that he will, together with his delegation, visit Francistown in February next year,” said Kgalajwe.
While at Daven Port, the delegation from Francistown also met with a number of investors who promised to organize a trade mission that will visit Francistown to explore investment opportunities. Kgalajwe said they also met with representatives from various universities, some of whom showed interest in student exchange programs.
“The University of Cincinnati in Ohio State was keen on the possibility of setting up a University in Francistown. We want to have a fully-fledged University in Francistown because we believe that with education we can be able to develop our city. Big towns which are the size of Francistown have fully fledged universities and we also want the same,” he said.
Kgalajwe added that the FCC already has a plot at Gerald Estates where such a university can be set up. He said they have already liaised with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, Richard Matlhare to facilitate such an initiative. Kgalajwe said there are many investment opportunities in Francistown because it is located in the richest region of Botswana.
“The geographical location of Francistown gives it a great advantage to become an economic giant of Botswana because it is the gateway to many African countries. Therefore, Francistown has an access market of over 200 million people in these African countries. The city is also surrounded by several mines and dams. These are the golden opportunities that we should not take for granted,” said Kgalajwe.
In conclusion, Kgalajwe said preparations are at an advanced stage for an Investment Forum which will be held from 19-21 August 2014.