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'Botswana should market itself better'- Japan official

Staff Writer
Botswana is not doing enough to sell herself to Japanese investors, says a senior government official from Japan.

In an exclusive interview on Saturday afternoon, deputy director general for press and public relations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Yasufisa Kawamura, said that Botswana is not doing enough to convince Japanese investors about the friendly business environment it can offer to them.

"Botswana enjoys a good international reputation and has great potential for economic growth, has high level of good governance but is not doing enough to advertise itself to Japanese investors," he said.

Kawamura was in Botswana to attend the follow up meeting of Tokyo International Conference on Africa's Development (TICAD IV) which was held in Yokohama in Japan in May last year. 

It was during the TICAD IV when the government of Japan made a commitment to double the Official Development Aid (ODA) for Africa in the next four years to USD1.8 billion.  He said that they are working hard to assist one of the big companies in Japan to open shop in Botswana and was confident that many others will follow.

The conference was followed by a visit by a delegation comprising of government officials and private companies last year to assess the situation in several African countries, including Botswana.

The delegation also made assessment of mining opportunities and infrastructure development. He revealed that Japanese investors are aware of power shortage and poor road infrastructure in many African countries. "We have noted that there are few or no trans-national roads in the continent and we are ready to provide ODA for such

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roads," he said.

He further said that development aid will be availed to Africa notwithstanding the global recession that has hit developed countries.

Former President Festus Mogae also visited Japan in 2006 in another mission to try a lure investors and tourists to visit Botswana. Kawamura said Botswana needs to diversify its tourist destinations for it to benefit from Japanese tourists. "There are very few, in fact, a handful of Japanese follow wildlife. Botswana is not doing well in the area and needs to work hard because there is stiff competition out there," he said. Botswana is competing with countries like Kenya and South Africa, which are well known globally. Tourism contributes close to a third of the countries Gross Domestic Product (GDP) after diamonds for which sales have dropped by 60 percent since December 2008.

On the issue of political instability in African countries, such as Madagascar, the envoy said it was too early to make a decision on the country.  He said that they are monitoring the situation in Madagascar with hope that it will improve. The TICAD IV also put Zimbabwe out of the list of countries that were going to benefit from the ODA. Kawamura said they are hoping the country will improve and that all the parties will support the coalition government to work. He promised that after contributing USD200 million to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Japan will continue helping Africa fight other diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. 



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