Botswana Getting Little Foreign Aid

Staff Writer
TOKYO : Botswana is in comparison to other African countries receiving very little aid even from major development donors like Japan.

This was revealed by Kemmiya Misa, the assistant director of the African Department of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at a briefing of African journalists here on Friday.

According to Misa, from their 2007 financial report, Botswana got assistance valued at USD 4.5 million of which USD 2.47 million was in the form of grant provided through the bilateral facility while USD 2.02 million was in the form of technical assistance.

Most of the technical support, Misa said, was in the form of volunteers and other experts helping in various sectors. Botswana's relatively small assistance is in stark contrast with the massive aid pumped into other African countries such as Tanzania (USD 687.70 million), Zambia (USD 1.1 billion), and Malawi (USD 221.82 million).

A total of USD 1.7 billion has been disbursed to African countries in the period.

Misa said countries like Botswana are seemingly getting little because they are viewed as middle- income countries and as such are adjudged not to be in serious need of foreign development aid. However, at a separate press briefing at the Japan's ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hideki Uyama, the director of International Cooperation Bureau, said that even though Botswana cannot draw a lot of assistance in the form of bilateral and multilateral grants, she could benefit from loan aid.

Talking about development projects in Botswana, the Japanese authorities

say they are hopeful that energy projects could be developed in the country. In particular, Misa cited solar energy project, which she said JICA was handling in consultation with Botswana authorities. "I am not talking about little solar panels. I am talking about energy that will be put in the grid system," she said.

In terms of the energy crisis in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), she said the attitude of JICA was to assist in projects that can benefit the region . The Japanese have shown interest in the Mmamabula project.

At these press briefings the Japanese authorities reiterated the commitment that they made at the March 2009 follow-up meeting held at the Grand Palm Hotel in Gaborone that despite the economic recession, they would redouble their development assistance to Africa over the next five years.

This commitment, Misa said, was despite protests from a section of the Japanese public who "question why their country is extending aid to Africa when there is a greater need at home".

Quoting a study that was done, Hanazano Chinami of the Public Relations Unit said 70 percent of Japanese people said they "recognise why aid is given to other countries while 30 percent want aid to be cut".

Chinami said while development aid was generally going down, the aid extended to Africa would increase.



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