Friday, March 1, 2024

Government said to be on track with its FOCAC plans

By Mmapula Molapong

The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tapiwa Mongwa says government is on track with what was agreed at the Forum for China Africa Cooperation FOCAC meeting in Beijing last year. 

The Chinese government held the Coordinators Meeting on the Implementation of the Followed-up Actions of the Beijing Summit of the FOCAC earlier this week. 

The Deputy PS said some of the achievements by government are Infrastructure development, trade promotion, human resource development and capacity building.

She noted that they have three years to finish the projects that they have negotiated with the Chinese government. “I believe we should all be in sync and move at the same pace in order to meet the deadlines that we have set for ourselves and to finish projects on time, we are already building capacity to deliver projects faster and on time.” She said.

Some of the infrastructure developments include the Francistown-Mohembo road, the Kazugula-Mosetse rail link and Palapye- Martin’s drift road.

She however could not be drawn into discussing the interest rates of the loans as she noted “The feasibility studies are ongoing and that will guide the final projects and the loan amounts which are still not known at this point. As for interest rates, those are still under negotiations and we can confirm that they are competitive.” She stated that Botswana has capped the loans at about 11.5 billion Pula.

Addressing delegates at the closing ceremony on Tuesday Namibian President Hage Geingob, who is the current Southern African Development Community SADC Chairperson, said tranquillity is key in enticing development partners such as China to support SADC’s agenda through programmes and technical assistance at both regional and national levels. 

SADC says governments in the region must strive for peace and stability as a catalyst for attracting foreign trade, investment and infrastructure development. 

The remarks were contained in a statement issued by Geingob who did not attend the meeting but was read out to the delegates by his deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Christine Hoebes.  

According to him the prevailing peace and stability in the SADC region is setting the ground for more trade, investment and infrastructure development. 

Speaking earlier, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who was the special guest at the summit, said China and Africa are connected by a strong relationship, making China one of the biggest partners of the Continent.

During his remarks as the guest of honour at the recent FOCAC meeting, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said that Africa and China should, establish an equitable trade and development model that should emancipate humanity from the primitive tendencies of win-lose situations.

“We should all work for win-win frameworks. China by supporting infrastructure, which is the base of the production of tradable goods and services is already moving in the right direction, “said Museveni.

In his congratulatory message Chinese President Xi Jinping said the FOCAC Beijing Summit which was held last September is a milestone in the history of China-Africa relations.

The message further indicated that Chinese and African leaders unanimously decided to push forward the merge of joint construction of the Belt and Road and AU Agenda 2063 as well as development strategies of African countries.

Xi noted that China and African countries have also decided to build a China-Africa community with a shared future that features joint responsibility, win-win cooperation, happiness for all, common cultural prosperity, common security, and harmonious co-existence, and jointly implement the eight major initiatives of China-Africa cooperation, which charted a new blueprint for China-Africa relations on a higher level.

“I am glad to see that China and the African side have worked together to positively push forward the implementation of the FOCAC Beijing summit’s achievements, which have already gratified many early achievements and brought benefits to the Chinese and African peoples,” Xi said.

Xi expressed hope that the two sides can take the just ended meeting as an opportunity and uphold the principle of consultation and collaboration for shared benefits, enhance communication and synergy among other things.


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