source: Republic of Botswana (4/7/10) TAUTONA TIMES no 10 of 2010
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery"
B2) 3/7/10: REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY LIEUTENANT GENERAL SERETSE KHAMA IAN KHAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA, DELIVERED ON THE OCCASION OF THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE ZAMBIA INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR AT NDOLA, ZAMBIA:
Your Excellency, Mr. Rupiah Banda, President of the Republic of Zambia; Your Worship the Mayor of the City of Ndola;
Cabinet Ministers here present;
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps and International Organisations;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Let me begin by thanking the organisers of the 46th Zambia International Trade Fair for inviting me to officially open this impressive event. It is truly an honour and privilege to be here among you today.
2. Let me further take this opportunity to commend all of the exhibitors, as well as the organizers, for the overall quality of your displays. From what I have been able to observe so far, I am certain that this Fair shall prove to be a great success.
3. I am also especially grateful that my visit here, though short, provides me, on half of the Government and people of Botswana, with a timely opportunity to reaffirm and strengthen the close bonds of friendship and cooperation which have long bound our sister Republics together.
4. Over the decades our two nations have enjoyed a special relationship that can be traced back at least as far as the initial contacts that took place between my father and the Former President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, in the period immediately before each of our nation’s independence. These early meetings laid a foundation for broader regional as well as bilateral cooperation that have stood the test of time.
5. Since then our countries have remained united not only by such personal contacts but, perhaps more importantly, by our shared ideals and challenges.
6. Given this enduring legacy, I am most grateful by the warm reception that has been accorded both to me and to members of my delegation since our arrival in Ndola.
7. One of the shared challenges our two countries have had to overcome in recent months is the difficult task of managing our economies in the face of the global economic downturn, which has had a particularly damaging impact on international commodity prices.
8. Your Excellency, in this respect it would be remiss of me not to pay personal tribute to the prudent manner in which you and your administration have managed to steer your economy through these troubled times. Zambia’s impressive growth rate of 6.3% last year, is evidence of your capable stewardship.
9. Ladies and Gentlemen, I note that the theme of this Trade Fair is: “Economic Recovery through Innovation and Competitiveness”. This is most appropriate as your country, like my own, is struggling in the face of the ongoing crisis to further restructure its economy in order to more effectively capitalise on now emerging global economic opportunities.
10. Each of our countries further shares the common challenge of accelerating economic diversification in order to lessen our longstanding dependence on the mineral sector.
11. In this respect, I note that both of our economies are finding renewed opportunities in agriculture sectors.
12. In the case of my own country the crisis has been accompanied by an unprecedented expansion in both total hectares planted and final yields. This, I wish to emphasise before this distinguished audience, has created additional opportunities for external trade and investment, between us.
13. It is my understanding that here in Zambia, as in Botswana, it is now widely accepted that achieving economic recovery through innovation and competitiveness will further require an ever increasing contribution from the private sector as an engine for ensuring sustainable growth.
14. We all, furthermore, recognise that our countries can no longer afford to put our eggs in one basket. Sustained growth, through which we can also achieve sustained reductions in poverty, will require contributions from small, medium and large enterprises alike. In this respect, it is comforting to see just such a diversity well represented at this event.
15. This Fair’s theme further underscores the need for our two countries to increasingly engage in systemic initiatives to improve the quality of the goods and services that we produce so that they become competitive in the international market.
16. International Trade Fairs such as this can play a critical role, as they not only afford companies an occasion to showcase their products, but also provide an opportunity for enterprises to benchmark with one another in order to improve their product quality and range.
17. In addition, well organised Trade Fairs can boost intra regional trade and investment.
18. Before coming here I was able to review the bilateral trade figures between our two countries. I am pleased to be able to report that, notwithstanding the financial crisis, these statistics show a remarkable improvement in the trade flows between us over the last five years, as Batswana and Zambians alike have begun to take advantage of the market access opportunities as availed through the SADC Trade Protocol.
19. I am also reassured by the fact that the content of our trade also reflects an increasing diversity of goods. There are, however, still many opportunities for further growth in sectors such as manufactured goods and Agro products that we can encourage and nurture for our mutual benefit.
20. Your Excellency, we shall not be able achieve our shared vision of greater regional economic integration if we fail to improve our communication links.
21. Whilst I must commend the efforts of our two Governments, along with international partners spearheading the planned construction of Kazungula Bridge, I would like to also urge that we do everything in our power to ensure that this important project becomes fully operational as soon as possible.
22. The anticipated launch of a direct air link between Gaborone and Lusaka this coming August 2010 should also facilitate the swift movement of people, goods and services in a cost-effective manner.
23. Finally let me conclude by once more emphasising the need for all of us to work together in promoting democracy and maintaining political stability in the region, as this quality creates a conducive environment for trade and investment.
24. Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, with these few remarks, it is indeed my humble pleasure to declare the 46th Zambia International Trade Fair officially open. I thank you.