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Office of the President (OP)
Inside the Presidency-Issue No 19

Welcome to your weekly window into the Presidency. This past week H.E. the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama travelled to Tokyo with the message that Botswana is well placed to serve as a central gateway for Japanese businesses wishing to enter the Central and Southern African markets.

During his four day Official Visit His Excellency’s message of Botswana being open for business was conveyed through the Japanese media as well as in engagements with government and business leaders, including meetings with the Japanese Business Federation and Association of Corporate Executives. Acknowledging that our country’s landlocked status has in the past posed a challenge to investors who were otherwise attracted by our political stability and business friendly environment, the President repeatedly informed receptive audiences of ongoing efforts to transform Botswana into a regional transport and energy hub capable of servicing the SADC market of over 250 million.

Botswana’s potential as Asia’s gateway to the Southern Africa market was also the theme of a well attended Investment Roundtable, which was hosted by the Business Federation. In addition to keynote remarks by the President, presentations were made at the forum by the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Hon. Dorcus Makgato-Malesu, the CEO of BEDIA, Mr. Jacob Nkate, and the General Manager of BCL Ltd., Mr. Montwedi Mphathi, as well as the President of the Japanese Oil, Gas and Metals National Company, Mr. Hirobumi Kawano. The last speaker informed the forum about the Geological Remote Sensing Centre in Lobatse, which is using satellite imaging for minerals exploration.

Besides attracting senior executives from major Japan based corporations, the interactive two hour session was covered by the press including the Japan’s National Broadcaster - NHK. During the visit the President and members of his delegation also found time to give additional interviews to Japanese media.

A symbolic highlight of the Official Visit occurred at the beginning of the visit when His Excellency was given the rare honour of an audience with His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Akihito.

At a political level the President and members his delegation, which also included the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Hon. Phandu Skelemani, engaged in a series of bilateral meetings with their Japanese counterparts, which included Official Talks with the Japanese Prime Minister Kan.

Prime Minister Kan opened the summit by expressing his government’s appreciation for Botswana’s record of political stability and economic growth, further emphasising Japan’s desire to enhance bilateral relations through business to business as well as government to government contacts. He further pledged his support for Botswana’s “robust economic development”.

For his part President Khama expressed his own appreciation for the friendship and support that Japan has extended to Botswana since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1966. Additional areas of discussion included potential cooperation in transportation, broadcasting, business promotion, and reform of multilateral institutions.

President Khama also met with the former Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Yukio Hatoyama, who remains an influential political figure. During their discussions Khama thanked Hatoyama for his decision, while still head of government, to make Botswana eligible for Japanese Overseas Development Assistance as part of the TICAD 4 process, notwithstanding our country’s middle income status.

For his part Hatoyama stated that Botswana’s record as a model of democracy in Africa was a foundation for closer economic as well as political ties. He further expressed his confidence that the President’s visit would promote greater win-win cooperation in areas such as energy, minerals and technology, including green technology.

The President also hosted a luncheon for a number of Japanese parliamentarians, who expressed their desire to revive inter-parliamentary contacts. The Japanese legislators held further discussions on the topic with the Member of Parliament for Francistown West, the Hon. Tshelang Masisi.

In other engagements the President met with the head of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Madame Sadako Ogata, who affirmed her organisation’s continued commitment to assist Botswana. He also took time to meet with three Batswana students – Mr. Ame Selepeng, Mr. Tirelo Moepswa and Ms. Itumeleng Seitshiro, who are all doing post-graduate studies in mining related subjects at Akiti University, as well as brief members of the press who were covering the trip.

Culturally, the tour hit its high note on Tuesday evening, when His Excellency was the guest of honour at a Botswana Music and Dance Night, which took place before a sold out crowd at the Akasaka Civic Centre in central Tokyo. The entertainment extravaganza featured Banjo Mosele’s band, who were joined for most of their performance by the legendary Japanese saxophonist Sadao Watanabe. The concert was opened by the Dipela tsa ga Kobokwe dance troupe from Molepolole.

Following the show the President was pleased to invite Watanabe and Mosele to continue their musical collaboration in Botswana. Throughout the week Dipela tsa ga Kobokwe also performed at the Botswana Art and Diamond Exhibition at Tokyo’s Oazo centre, while Banjo Mosele appeared at the Calabash, the city’s leading African theme nightspot.

The Visit ended on Wednesday morning when the President departed aboard OK 1, arriving home on Thursday.

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