The new Head of Delegation of the European Union to Botswana, Ambassador Gerard McGovern, on Thursday presented his letters of credence to President Khama and pledged to help the local economy diversify.
McGovern, who replaces Paul Malin, said he was happy to be called upon to contribute to building on the excellent and friendly relations that already exist between Botswana and the EU.
He added he was looking forward to working together with EU Member State colleagues in Botswana to further enhance the EU’s cooperation with the country.
McGovern commended Botswana and its people for the rapid economic and social progress being achieved.
He pledged EU support to further diversify the economy. The EU envoy underlined Botswana’s role as a regional player notably in SADC.
Here too he indicated the EU’s intention to support initiatives that will advance regional economic and political integration. He cited increased regional trade as a way to accelerate growth and poverty reduction.
“In global terms,” he stated, “the EU aims to promote peace and prosperity in Africa.”
McGovern, an Irish national, worked as Deputy Head of Mission at the European Union Delegation in South Africa before taking up his new assignment.
Much of his professional life has been devoted to development in a career that has taken him to the Americas and Asia, as well as to Sub-Saharan Africa.
“With all humility, I hope that I can share my experience to the further development of your beautiful country and its people,” he told President Khama.
EU opened its Delegation in Botswana in 1981 and is responsible for relations and cooperation between Botswana and the European Union.
Since then, operations have expanded reflecting the increasing importance of the relationship between the EU and Botswana.
The Delegation also acquired a regional role with the establishment of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat in Gaborone in 1991.
The EU-Botswana cooperation has focused principally on education and training, conservation and tourism, economic diversification of the mining sector, support to civil society and to Government reforms.
The main purpose of the present cooperation under the 10th (EDF) allocation of Ôé¼83.5 million (Approx. P760 million at current exchange rate) is to promote economic and social development, mainly through human resource development and through support to civil society.
Since 2006, EU cooperation with Botswana shifted from the traditional “project approach” to “budget support”.
Up to 85 percent of EU assistance is now channeled through the Government budget in the form of annual disbursements, based on the achievement of agreed educational and HIV prevention results.
This performance-based approach, where assistance is provided to help government deliver on the targets that it has itself set, reflects a maturing relationship between the EU and Botswana characterised in particular by EU’s confidence in Botswana’s development plans and public finance management systems.
Since 1992, the EU has an on-going dialogue with SADC on peace, security, democracy and sustainable development in the region.
The EU is the most important trading partner for the SADC region. The EU absorbs 42 percent of SADC exports and is the source of 39 percent of SADC imports.
In order to improve the competitiveness of ACP countries, the Cotonou Agreement provides for a new type of regional trading arrangement known as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), currently being negotiated with groups of ACP countries.
EPAs are comprehensive development agreements. Their objectives are to reduce poverty, diversify economies and create employment through enhanced intra-regional integration and carefully managed opening towards the world economy.
The SADC Regional Indicative Programme (RIP) for 2008-2013 support from the EU earmarks an amount of Ôé¼116 million in support of regional economic and regional political integration.
The objectives are to increase economic growth and reduce poverty through higher levels of regional economic integration and improved trade negotiating capacities at regional and multi-lateral levels.