Vol.23 No.86

Friday 9 June 2006    

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News
Mogae meets Koizumi

BAME PIET
Staff Writer

6/9/2006 2:41:30 PM (GMT +2)

TOKYO: President Festus Mogae held a closed door meeting with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi yesterday (Thursday afternoon). He was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe, Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Kitso Mokaila, Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Charles Tibone and other senior government officials.


Earlier during the day, Mogae addressed the 2006 Africa Day Symposium at the United Nations University, which under the theme, "Tools for Development: Trade, Investment and Official Development Assistance (ODA)". He said that the living standards of Africans continue to deteriorate despite its great wealth in natural resources, which can be harnessed to take the continent to higher levels of economic and social development. He emphasised that Africa's main concern is the improvement of people's lives. Mogae said that HIV/AIDS is an additional burden toAfrica's woes. The pandemic infected 25.8 million Africans out of 40.3 million people infected in the world. "We are by far the most affected continent. In addition, Africa has low life expectancy, literacy rate, access to basic services as well as high infant and maternal mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and unemployment," he said. He further said that the problems can only be eradicated with partnership and support of the international community. "For Africa to achieve economic development, it needs peace and security; good governance; transparent and open policies (political and economic), respect for human rights and the rule of law; a stable and predictable economic environment and, above all, investor/private sector friendly policies and programmes," Mogae noted. The President did not hide his displeasure with the way rich and developed countries make it difficult for African products to reach their market by imposing high tariffs and non-tariff barriers on agricultural and manufactured goods. He said the matter should be accorded high priority if sustainable development is to be achieved After the President's speech, there was a panel discussion at which participants suggested ways in which the Japanese government could encourage its business community to invest in Africa. Most speakers from Africa lamented that they are given a raw deal when they trade with developed countries. A speaker from Uganda cited that the country exports One kilogram of unprocessed coffee at only USD15 while a cup of coffee in Tokyo costs USD2. He said there are disparities in the trade system, which makes it difficult for the continent to progress. Another speaker told the audience of over 200 that World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules are problematic to Africa Another issue that emerged was the proliferation of counterfeit goods - Fong Kongs to Africa, which Japanese officials said was a serious concern to them. They said that they would work hard on the enforcement of Intellectual and Property Rights. In response, Mogae said that Botswana has the law on Property and Intellectual rights but it was difficult to determine whether or not the goods were genuine. "We have the same problem of counterfeit goods in our country, which we call Fong Kongs, but we don't have enough inspectors with skills to detect whether the goods are genuine," he said. The President called on investors to explore other opportunites instead of concentrating only on extracting industries, which is limited to mining and oil production. He said this makes Africa vulnerable to economic collapse and lack of developments. He also explained that SADC region wants the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) to be effective. Mogae left the house in laughter when he disclosed that developed countries can behave strangely when giving out aid to African countries. He cited a bridge that links Botswana and Zambia that was supposed to be built in the past two years. He said that the Japanese government had promised to fund part of the project but it came up with difficult equations, which affected the project. However, officials of the Japanese Foreign Affairs ministry assured the audience that they have drafted a new system that would be used in projects that involve two or more countries. Some speakers felt that there is too much talk about Africa but little action. An official from Botswana government appealed to the Japanese government o give out aid that has no strings attached. Send us your comments about Mmegi newspaper Search For Old Newspaper Editions To advertise contact us through email

 
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