Botswana’s Ambassador to the United States (U.S) Onkokame Kitso Mokaila has said Botswana is grateful for the US$4.65 million the world’s largest economy has pledged towards the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Responding to Covid-19, we quickly pivoted to virtual platforms and events. We have also witnessed the remarkable speed and progress the U.S. has made in the vaccine development,” said Mokaila in an interview with Sunday Standard last week.
He said there are opportunities that can arise from Botswana’s relations with the U.S in every sector of the economy, including but not limited to education, training, information technology, tourism, hospitality, and environmental management, conservation and wildlife management.
Mokaila’s duty is to develop connections and partnerships in pursuance of Botswana’s digital Transformation “Smart Bots”, community-based conservation and eco-tourism, university-to-university collaborations, research, development and innovation (R&D), human resource development, trade and investment and defense and security.
He said there is a need to strengthen private sector development, finance, health, agriculture, water management, energy security, mining and minerals, community development, cultural preservation, civil society support, law enforcement, defense and security opportunities for Botswana.
He said his diplomatic assignment includes managing Botswana’s foreign relations with the United States, Canada, Mexico and Caribbean states by supporting interactions and engagements with those nations.
Mokaila spoke of building and maintaining positive relationships with foreign leaders, members of parliament, diplomats, senior government officials, academicians, industry leaders, civil society leadership and the Diaspora.
“Botswana is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act and there are potential economic gains in every sector of the economy,” he stated.
Mokaila said the relationship between Botswana and the United States is strong and continues to grow from strength to strength.
He added that the relationship is anchored on their shared values of good governance, democracy, rule of law, human rights and peace and security. He stated that the U.S. Peace Corps has contributed immensely to Botswana’s national development and continued to work in local communities on projects in youth development and health.
He said since his appointment he has held a series of high-level meetings with the White House, State Department and other U.S. Government agencies, Congressional caucus groups, foreign Embassies based in Washington D.C., academic institutions, think tanks, non-government organizations, civil society, the private sector and the Botswana Diaspora.
He added that the objective is to build and maintain relationships to advance Botswana’s strategic national interests and partnerships and identify areas of mutual interests that contribute to Botswana’s national development agenda.
“We have benefited from the invaluable support rendered through the President’s Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief initiative, (PEPFAR) in support of Botswana’s sustained fight against HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.
He stated that the U.S. also helps conserve, maintain, and restore the forests of Botswana by supporting Forest Conservation Botswana (FCB) through the Trans-frontier Conservation Area (TFCA).
“I continue to engage and participate in high-level engagements with our strategic partners to expand the scale and scope of our cooperation,” he said.