Botswana would not be left out in the euphoria gripping the region this week as neighbouring south Africa hosted the 10th BRICS Summit at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
The Summit brought together leaders of the world’s most developing countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to explore trade and investment opportunities and discuss the obtaining world trade environment, currently characterised by trade wars between global trading partners.
Here in Gaborone, India’s High Commissioner to Botswana, Dr Rajesh Ranjan used the opportunity on Wednesday to gather a select group of Botswana-based Indian captains of industry, amongst them - Chairman of IBCCI Shyam Srikaran and President of IAB Rajat Dhuria - at the Chancery to watch a live telecast of Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world, Narendra Modi addressing the Ugandan Parliament.
The Indian Envoy Dr. Ranjan explained that all leaders of Southern African Development Community (SADC) had been invited to the BRICS Summit as ‘observers’, an assertion that Botswana Government Spokesperson, Jeff Ramsay would later confirm to Botswana Guardian.Mokgweetsi Masisi had received a personal invitation from South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa and that he would be travelling to Johannesburg on Friday (today) to participate in the “Outreach Dialogue Session” between BRICS leaders and leaders from the region.
Ahead of his trip to South Africa, Prime Minister Modi visited central and east African countries of Rwanda and Uganda where he pledged hundreds of millions-worth lines of credit to the two countries.
In Uganda, Modi announced a combined US$205million line of credit for electricity lines, agriculture and dairy production, whist in Rwanda he announced a line of credit of US$200 million following talks with President Paul Kagame.
Addressing the Ugandan Members of Parliament in the presence of President Yoweri Museveni, Prime Minister Modi extolled the bonds of relationship that subsist between India and Africa, whose roots he traced back to Mahatma Ghandi. He said Ghandi was one with Africa and Africans and that his methods of peaceful resistance had inspired leaders like Nelson Mandela, Albert Luthuli, Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere amongst many in Africa.
Modi said India would build a Gandhi Heritage Centre at the sacred site in Jinja, where a statue of Gandhiji now stands to pay homage and “remind us of Africa’s role in shaping his mission that even inspired Africa to freedom and justice; and the universal and timeless values of his life and message.”
Modi said India is also opening 18 new embassies in Africa to cement the ties with a continent that India regards as a “partner.” Statistics attest to the truism of this assertion. At present, India-Africa development partnership includes implementation of 180 Lines of Credit worth about USD 11 billion in over 40 African countries. At the last India Africa Forum Summit, India had committed a concessional Line of Credit of 10 billion U.S. dollars and 600 million dollars in grant assistance.
Modi said that every year, over 8000 African youth are trained in a diverse set of programmes and confirmed that Indian companies have invested over US$54 billion in Africa.“Our trade with Africa is now over US$ 62 billion,”representing over 21 per cent more than in the previous year. Africa’s exports to India are growing, he said, and, both nations’economic ties are now increasingly driven by new partnerships of innovation in the digital economy.
It will seem that Africa’s cooperation with Africa transcends all human endeavours and activities. Modi expressed pride at the work of Indian peacekeepers in over a dozen UN peacekeeping missions in Africa, since the first mission in Congo in 1960.
He said that in all the UN peacekeeping Missions in the world, 163 Indians have made the “supreme sacrifice”, adding that this is among the highest number for any country.
“Almost 70 per cent of these embraced martyrdom just in Africa. Today, over 6,000 Indians serve in five peacekeeping operations in Africa”, he said. President Masisi’s participation in today’outreach dialogue session with BRICS leaders is hoped to salvage some morsels from BRICS for Botswana’s development agenda. BRICS has set up a bank to rival both the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), which are seen as pro-Western institutions. Government Spokesperson Dr. Jeff Ramsay is optimistic that Masisi’s participation in the BRICS outreach dialogue session is a harbinger of good things that will eventually come to Botswana, SADC and Africa.
He says the outreach dialogue – the first high-level initiative, expected to include other African heads of state – will activate the African angle in the BRICS mosaic.
“We also stand to enhance our relationships with other members of BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India and China,” he said, adding that in a multi-polar world, “we are happy to see” multilateral institutions that promote South-to-South and Pan African relationships.
Meanwhile, China, the world’s second largest economy has extended R190billion to South Africa. The gesture comes ahead of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit scheduled for Beijing in early September 2018.
Masisi is poised to attend the Summit. Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) this week also hosted a 70-person strong delegation from the China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) in a business forum to explore investment opportunities within both countries.
According to Li Hongbing, the First Secretary in the Economic and Commercial Counsellor’s Office at the Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China in Botswana, the trade value between China and Botswana was US$266 million whilst the outflow foreign direct investment from China to Botswana dropped by 77 percent year on year to US$18, 78 million for the period 2016/2017.In the same period, the amount of FDI from China to SADC was US$ 1.07 billion.
Ramsay said that indeed President