source: Republic of Botswana TAUTONA TIMES of 15/8/2010
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery"
B1) 13/8/10: SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT, LT. GEN. SERETSE KHAMA IAN KHAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA ON THE OCCASION OF THE ANNUAL DIPLOMATIC RECEPTION, GABORONE
[Salutations]...Ladies and Gentlemen.
1. It is a personal pleasure for me to be with you, our international friends and partners. In particular, let me thank the non-resident envoys who have been able to join us today.
2. This is the first such diplomatic occasion that I have hosted, but I can assure you it shall not be my last as this event is an opportunity to acknowledge the goodwill and support my country continues to receive from the international community.
3. This occasion also allows us all to take stock of the shared events that have shaped our common destiny over the past twelve months. As advances in communications technology and market integration shrink the boundaries that exist between us, the concept of the "global village" has evolved from what was once an idealistic metaphor to an increasingly apt description of our interdependent reality.
4. Nowadays, we are all increasingly united by both positive and negative events. The ecstasy of the recent World Cup is thus balanced against the agony of the terrible earthquakes and floods that have affected other countries. While we watch the dreadful toll of natural disasters around the world, we are also united by such things as our appreciation of the wonders of nature. A little while ago, I was impressed to learn that, through the internet, people across the globe were observing the daily wildlife activities of a certain spot in the Okavango.
5. Let me take this opportunity to especially congratulate the Government and the people of South Africa for their hosting of this year's FIFA World Cup. Let me further pay tribute to the teams from the four corners of the globe who kept us enthralled with their sportsmanship.
6. It is appropriate that I take advantage of this event to share with you some of the developments that have been taking place in this country. Like most of your nations, Botswana is now emerging from the effects of the global recession, which for us was especially negative due to its severe impact on our minerals sector, more especially our chief revenue earner - diamonds. Here, I am pleased to confirm that our economy is now showing signs of recovery.
7. Given the need to stimulate and sustain economic growth by expanding the non-mining sector, Government took a deliberate decision to allow key infrastructure projects to go ahead during the recession. We further intervened to minimise retrenchments, while providing monthly employment on public works for those most in need. While these strategies have been largely successful they required us to engage in deficit spending, which has been financed through preferential borrowing and a draw down on our foreign reserves.
8. In this respect let me thank the many of you here who assisted us in obtaining low interest loans, as well as other forms of support during this trying time, notwithstanding the fact that your own countries were also in economic distress.
9. While coping with the effects of the economic downturn, my Government has remained committed to realising our overarching goal of transforming Botswana into a higher income economy, which is capable of providing for the wellbeing of all our citizens. Here our challenge is to continue to promote growth in the non-minerals sector.
10. To achieve this we have committed ourselves to the "Botswana Excellence Strategy for Economic Diversification and Sustainable Growth". A key component of the strategy is the identification of specific economic growth areas, which can serve as opportunity magnets for external investment. We have thus grouped major development projects into six Hubs. These are:
* A Diamond Hub to facilitate beneficiation and support services, while promoting Botswana as one of the world's major diamond trading centres;
* A Transport Hub to expand and promote synergy in the air, road and rail sectors. Ongoing and planned initiatives falling under this Hub thus include the Kazungula Bridge, the Dry Port at Walvis Bay, expanded railway links and the refurbishment of our major airports, in line with the pursuit of an Open Skies policy to attract international carriers;
* An Agricultural Hub to serve as a catalyst for the greater commercialisation and diversification of the sector, as well as to improve food security;
* A Health Hub to identify projects that will make Botswana a centre of excellence in the provision of healthcare services through the outsourcing of selected services to improve efficiency, while leveraging private sector capacity and establishing clinical centres of excellence to cater to foreign as well as local patients;
* An Education Hub to enable Botswana to have a competitive edge both regionally and globally through the promotion of education, training and academic research; and
* An Innovation Hub, which will serve as a commercial nexus for applied research by catering for ICT and Research and Development companies.
11. Your Excellencies, I take this opportunity to urge your fellow countrymen to take a closer look at how they can take advantage and profit from these and other avenues of investment, such as Botswana's lucrative tourism sector. In this respect existing and potential foreign investors can be assured of this Government's steadfast commitment to an open society with an open economy in which all who can make a positive contribution are encouraged to do so.
12. While moving forward with our economic strategy, we are also redoubling our efforts to overcome our most pressing social challenges, which include the eradication of poverty, and achieving the social indices of our Millennium Development Goals. This, of course, includes overcoming the daunting challenge of HIV/AIDS. In this area we remain especially grateful for the generous outside assistance we continue to receive.
13. Our country's leading position in the most recent Global Peace Index is a reflection of this nation's underlying political stability, which is rooted not so much in the transitory allegiances of individual politicians as in the democratic values of the people they are elected to serve. In this respect we shall forever uphold our status as a Government of, by and for the people.
14. As both a member and the host of SADC, Botswana remains committed to regional integration and development as well as the promotion of peace and security. In the process we shall continue to collaborate with our region in promoting our common interests.
15. It is because, not despite of, our commitment to SADC institutions and precedents that we follow with interest developments in neighbouring states. Furthermore, as a country that binds itself to SADC values and aspirations, we condemn unconstitutional means of assuming power. We, therefore, support the suspension of the current regime in Madagascar and look forward to the day when its people will once more have the opportunity to determine their own destiny through the ballot.
16. We also continue to observe, the unfolding of events in Zimbabwe, since the signing of the Global Political Agreement. It is our hope that the ongoing engagement on constitutional reforms will open the door to a new chapter in that country's future.
17. We know that for Africa as a whole to achieve economic development, it needs transparency, accountability and respect for human rights. We therefore value the continued support that the international community provides to the African Union institutions that are working to establish regional standards for good governance.
18. In conclusion, I wish to once more express my profound gratitude and appreciation, to your respective Governments and Organisations for the valuable support and assistance which they have and continue to generously extend to Botswana. PULA!!!