Wednesday, August 26, 2009

H.H. Lt.Gen.Mompati S.Merafhe.MP, Vice President of the Republic of Botswana on Bilateral Relations and Cooperation between Botswana and Namibia

source: Republic of Botswana (22/8/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 22 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


The Right Honourable Nahas Angula, Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia, Honourable Helmet K. Angula, Minister of Works and Transport of Namibia, Honourable Johnnie K. Swartz, Botswana's Minister of Works and Transport, Senior Officials, Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Let me thank you on behalf of my delegation for accepting my request to come and meet with you to discuss matters of mutual interest between our countries, in particular those areas that require intervention at our level. The cordial relations that exist between Botswana and Namibia are naturally binding due to our shared boundary and are further enhanced by the need to continue implementation of the regional integration programmes some of which are coordinated by SACU and SADC while others are pursued bilaterally.

2. In growing these relations, regional initiatives such as the recently signed Cooperation and Capacity Agreement on the West Africa Cable System (WACS) have been undertaken. Since Botswana does not have direct access to the sea, under the WACS Project, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) has partnered with Telecom Namibia and agreed to contribute an amount of USD37.5 million each for this project.

3. In education, we have 156 students studying in Namibia, 103 at the University of Namibia and 53 at the Polytechnic of Namibia.

4. We continue to cooperate closely in animal disease control strategies as both countries benefit greatly from marketing beef to the European Union.

5. In the area of infrastructural development which is crucial for facilitating trade and tourism between our two countries, a number of projects are envisaged.

6. The Trans Kalahari Rail line once completed will for the first time provide a rail connection between Botswana and port facilities on the Namibian Atlantic Coast. The Pre-feasibility Study to be funded by the World Bank which will start in September 2009 will among others enable our countries to appropriately scope the project before soliciting the participation of the private sector. I must indicate that even before the scoping exercise starts we have had interest expressed from the private sector to finance, implement and operate the project. Our view however is that the alignment of the rail line should not only serve business interests but also assist in alleviating transport problems currently experienced in the remote areas of the western part of Botswana and the eastern part of Namibia. There can be no doubt that such a railway line will have a positive impact in enhancing people to people contacts.

7. Another mutually beneficial project is the Kazungula Bridge which has progressed well despite previous setbacks. As SADC Member States we are engaged in a noble project of constructing a Southern Africa that is economically integrated and prosperous. That is the only way in which our region can be globally competitive, create jobs and improve the living standards of its people. We are therefore not only brothers and sisters, friends and neighbours, but are also strategic partners in development. We are together involved in fighting poverty, unemployment and disease. We have a common past and a shared future.

8. Regarding the Kazungula Bridge, Namibia has indicated her interest in exploring the possibility of linking up Impalila Island to the Kazungula Bridge and in this regard will inform Botswana and Zambia on the outcome of her internal consultations on the matter as well as the modalities of her participation in the project.

9. Information on the project has been forwarded to the SADC Secretariat with a request that it be relayed to the Government of Namibia. This is because as you are no doubt aware, Prime Minister, this is a SADC Project. I have deemed it appropriate to informally hand over the documents to you today, just in case they have not yet reached your office. But you can consider them officially delivered!

10. The third most important matter is the Dry Port facility at Walvis Bay which is yet another example of practical and mutually beneficial co-operation between Botswana and Namibia. Following the signing of the MOU in February 2008 in Windhoek, negotiations on the lease agreement started. The negotiations on the lease agreement between officials of NAMPORT and Botswana Government have so far progressed well save for two areas; escalation of the lease rental and the payment of the Stamp Duty. Our views on these two issues were communicated to NAMPORT on the 7th August 2009.

11. Right Honourable Prime Minister, I am particularly delighted to say that last Friday we received a very positive response from NAMPORT on the issues I have just alluded to which indicated that we have now reached agreement with NAMPORT on the two issues that have been outstanding. I would therefore like to seize this opportunity to warmly convey through you our sincere thanks to the Government of the Republic of Namibia for her considerable understanding and the facilitative role she has played in bringing this matter to finality.

12. This is a win-win situation. Our officials can now work on mutually convenient dates for the signing of the Agreement. The signing of this agreement will allow us to award the tender for the feasibility study which has hitherto awaited conclusion of the agreement. This is a project which is of enormous importance to both of us and we should be closely monitoring its implementation.

13. Once again, Right Honourable Prime Minister, thank you for the warm welcome, friendship and hospitality extended to me and my delegation since our arrival. The conclusion of the Agreement on the Dry Port facility demonstrates the excellent relations that exist between our two countries, the goodwill and readiness to work together for the good of our people. I thank you.

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