Gaborone-Botswana has made commitment to work on a bilateral engagements with other common wealth countries to revive their battered economy which has lost billions from the tourism industry because of the crippling effects of the Covid 19 pandemic.
The country’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lemogang Kwape said the Southern African country supports the idea of cooperation in deliberations both bilaterally and within Commonwealth family to find long lasting solutions for economic revival.
He was addressing the members of the common wealth ministers meeting this week.
“As you might be aware, the whole Commonwealth family has not been spared from the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic thus it warms my heart that the focus for this year’s meeting is on Recovery and the Commonwealth’s Role in Building Back Better. Like most of the countries around the world, Botswana too has had adverse effects which saw us declaring a State of Public Health Emergency in April 2020 and going into lockdown measures necessitated by the growing pandemic,” Kwape said.
Kwape said the country’s tourism, mining and manufacturing have been hard hit, leaving many people out of jobs and costing government money in subsidies.
“Out of necessity, Government has had to exhaust our savings and went into borrowing. Let me therefore, take this opportunity to reiterate the importance of addressing vaccine nationalism, sharing knowledge, best practices and innovation to develop our capacity for vaccine production,” he said.
He also added that Botswana fully supports the recommendations by the Common Wealth Secretariat for a coordinated response to challenges faced by the bloc of former British colonies.
“In particular, we welcome the call for a commonwealth-wide approach to leverage on the existing multilateral arrangements including the WTO Trade Related intellectual property Rights (TRIPS) and the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT). Botswana also welcomes the proposed policy areas to revitalize trade and promote more inclusive and sustainable economic recovery. To this end, we look forward to our developed members who have the know-how to share innovative technologies to create green jobs, generate renewable energies to enable sustainable production,” Kwape said.
Kwape said Botswana has managed to steer tits economy with limited resources Botswana signalling its interest to be involved in the supply chain of the manufacturing of the vaccines.
“To advance this, we are reliant on the support of the international community, including the Commonwealth family, to build the requisite skills, including through leveraging on the human resources skills available at the Botswana Vaccines Institute.
“ Furthermore, I wish to commend the voluntary price sharing database, which for self-financing countries like Botswana, will be a critical tool for accessing quality medicines.
According to the Botswana Government the current efforts to revive the ailing economy will be best achieve through sharing ideas as well as pulling together financial resources targeting specific sectors of the economy which lost income,” Kwape said.
Kwape said Botswana has also invested heavily in reviving the country’s manufacturing and continues to invest in the Small to Medium enterprises sector. He said the SME sector continues to lose jobs.