Botswana government is actively courting Chinese billionaire Jack Ma to invest in the country, although it is not clear yet in which sectors the Alibaba founder is wooed for.
Ma owns Alibaba, a diversified group which has interest in internet, retail, e-commerce, technology among others. Early this month(August), government representatives, mostly those from the investment, trade and industry ministry used the opportunity of Ma’s visit to South Africa for closed door discussions possibility of investing in the mining rich country. The Chinese mogul was in South Africa to among others launch his Foundation that targets start-ups in that country.
Investment, Trade and Industry minister, Bogolo Kenewendo told a local radio station that, they are expecting more discussions with the tech guru in the coming days. Ma himself is reported to be interested in investing in Africa, having previously visited Rwanda and Kenya, two of East African power houses. Meanwhile, President Mokgweetsi Masisi is expected to meet Ma in China later in the week.
Masisi, Botswana's 5th President is visiting China to also attend the China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) which takes place in Beijing. According to Botswana Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Daphne Mlotshwa, Masisi’s visit to China will be in two parts.“From the 31st August to the 2nd September 2018, His Excellency the President will be on a state visit.
During the state visit, His Excellency the President will hold bilateral talks with his counterpart, wherein they will deliberate on various issues of mutual interest, with a view to enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries,” Mlotshwa said.Masisi is scheduled to officiate at the Botswana-China Business Forum on 31 August, which will be co-hosted by the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. China remains an important trading partner to the mining-rich Botswana.
Last month, Masisi disclosed that they are getting P10 billion in credit line from China for infrastructure development. The money will be used to construct Francistown- Nata Road and Kazungula Bridge among other infrastructural developments.
“Even the Martins Drift Road would be revamped because we will have trucks using that border to travel to other countries. So we have to ensure that the road is in good state. We want to improve the lives of Batswana.
This government is for Batswana and has to serve Batswana,”Masisi stated.In 2017, Botswana exported goods worth $33 million, predominantly diamonds,to China while during the same period China exported to Botswana $233 million worth of goods.