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Botswana-Namibia collaboration essential

Botswana and Namibia are faced with similar challenges which require joint efforts for finding lasting solutions on the part of the two governments, says Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Lemogang Kwape.

“I am therefore pleased that our heads of state have agreed to work closely and coordinate efforts, particularly with regard to procurement and roll out of COVID-19 vaccines. This will allow our two countries to overcome the challenges of development, thus providing an opportunity to share meager resources and direct them to where they are needed the most,” said Dr Kwape.  

He was speaking during the official opening of the virtual 6th session of Botswana-Namibia Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation (JPCC) yesterday.

Stressing the importance of bilateral cooperation, Dr Kwape said the two countries would continue to work together to advance common positions and values at regional, continental and multilateral fora.

He described as an important and historic milestone the recent signing of a bilateral agreement establishing a Bi-National Commission (BNC) between the two countries.   

Dr Kwape said by establishing the BNC, the two nations had also raised the bar and therefore citizens’ expectations.

 “We must live up to the promise of ensuring that it brings positive and tangible results to our peoples,” he said.

  Minister Kwape said close relations between Botswana and Namibia have stood the test of time because they were founded on cultural, historical and family ties as well as on shared principles of democracy, good governance, respect for the rule of law and human rights.

Dr Kwape said since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, boundless developments had been made in promoting the spirit of good neighbourliness. 

“This is evidenced by, among others, the agreement by the two countries to allow the residents of Impalila Island and Kasika village in the Zambezi region to use border passes to enter Botswana. There is also a decision by our heads of state to commence the process of facilitating our citizens to cross our borders without the use of passports,” said Dr Kwape.

He said the initiatives would continue to strengthen bonds of friendship and fruitful cooperation with a view to improve the socio-economic development and livelihoods of the people.

For her part, Namibia’s deputy prime minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ms Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said personal interactions and exchanges between the governments and leadership of the two countries, marked by frequent high-level visits, were a clear demonstration of the fraternal ties that bound their friendship and relations. 

Ms Nandi-Ndaitwah further said the fact Batswana and Namibians had relatives across the common border bound the two countries even closer to each other. 

“This presents us with the responsibility to ensure that mechanisms are put in place to guarantee understanding and harmony among our people who are living side by side along our common border,” she said.  

She urged the two countries to expedite the finalisation of instruments such as the Agreement on Reciprocal Protection and Promotion of Investments as well as the one between investment promotion agencies. 

The instruments would further create a favourable environment to exploit the trade and investment potential available in the two countries, she said. 

Ms Nandi-Ndaitwah said as the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation chair, Botswana must continue to count on the full and unequivocal support of Namibia. 

At continental level, Ms Nandi-Ndaitwah said both countries welcomed the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was launched on January 1. 

“The AfCFTA is a powerful instrument at our disposal to intensify our bilateral trade and investment,” she said.

 On achievements, Ms Nandi-Ndaitwah said the two countries had managed to eradicate the Tsetse fly through vaccines manufactured by the Botswana Vaccine Institute.  

In addition, she said the two nations continued to safeguard the livestock industry and consequently the Namibian economy from Foot-and-mouth Disease (FMD). 

“We inaugurated the Namibia-Botswana Joint West Africa Cable System project, which has connected our countries to international broadband, to cheaper cost of broadband and enable our two countries to leverage on the rapid advances in digital technologies, among other benefits,” she said.

Ms Nandi-Ndaitwah said the Botswana Dry Port in Namibia had become a vital gateway for imports and exports not only for the two countries, but also for the wider SADC region.

About COVID-19, she noted the adverse impact of the pandemic on the societies and economies of the two nations. 

“Allow me to express my appreciation to the Republic of Botswana for its assistance during the early days of the pandemic in facilitating cross-border trade, especially along the Trans-Kalahari Corridor,” she added. 

Ms Nandi-Ndaitwah stressed that the pandemic could only be overcome through cooperation.

“Against this background, I am happy to note that we have agreed to a joint approach to vaccine procurement, delivery, regulatory approval, vaccination of citizens in either country as well as addressing community readiness and engagement for vaccine acceptance,” she said.ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Moshe Galeragwe

Location : GABORONE

Event : Botswana-Namibia Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation

Date : Feb 18 Thu,2021

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