The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite has secured an USD 4.5m grant from the NEPAD – Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility. Out of this facility, USD 1.7m will go to Botswana to implement infrastructure projects that will strengthen trade between COMESA and SADC.
Secretary General of COMESA Sindiso Ngwenya disclosed this when he received credentials from the Botswana High Commissioner to Zambia and Special Representative to COMESA Mr Lebonaamang Thanda Mokalake. This was in a brief ceremony at the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka.
He said the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Project Preparation and Implementation Unit (PPIU) hosted in the COMESA Secretariat was collaborating with Ministry of Transport and Communications in Botswana for the improvements of two roads sections on the North South Corridor that will further strengthen the trade exchange between Tripartite RECs and Botswana.
The works include preparation of the Feasibility Studies and Engineering Designs for the 64 km Pandamatenga to Nata road and 111 km Palapye to Martins Drift road.
In his remarks, the High Commissioner hailed the bold decision taken by the COMESA-EAC-SADC to launch the tripartite Free Trade Area as a milestone in the development of the region.
“Botswana and Zambia host the headquarters of the SADC and COMESA respectively and therefore have a great responsibility to ensure the tripartite arrangement works”, he said. He cited the Kazungula Bridge that links Zambia and Botswana whose construction is underway as a key regional infrastructure project that will spur trade between COMESA and SADC.
Mr Ngwenya observed that Botswana offered crucial lessons to the region especially in the management of mineral resources especially diamonds as the anchor to regional development.
“It is also important to observe that aided by strong macroeconomics fundamental, a rich mineral resource base and a conducive investment climate, Botswana has in the past five years attracted a significant number of institutional investors,” Mr Ngwenya said.
In 2013, COMESA supported the government of Botswana in the development of its national climate change policy, response strategy and action plan with a grant of $120,000 from the Tripartite climate change programme budget. Currently, the draft policy and strategy have been developed and validated by the technical reference group and are to be debated in parliament before submission to cabinet for final approval.
The Tripartite Climate Change Programme is also supporting Botswana in the area of climate smart agriculture through sub grants to FAO and the Golden Valley Agriculture Research Trust (GART). This involves setting up and building the capacity of the national conservation agriculture Task Force as well as setting up demonstration plots in Nata in the north of the country.