The Swisscham Southern Africa (SCSA), with the support of the Embassy of Botswana recently organised an African summer barbeque to go with a presentation: An Audio–visual presentation on Botswana as a tourism and investment destination held in Georg C. Umbricht Law office at Bahnhofstrasse in the heart of Zurich.
The invited guests included members of SCSA and their friends, members of Swiss business community, and some senior staff of the Botswana Embassy in Switzerland led by Her Excellency Dr. Athaliah Lesiba Molokomme, the Ambassador of the Republic of Botswana to Switzerland and United Nations Office, Geneva (UNOG)
After a BBQ held on the balcony of the law office, the attendees moved into the meeting hall of the office for the main event of the evening – the presentations. The Ambassador and two of the officials of the embassy made the presentations.
Ambassador gave a brief history of Botswana starting from how it became a British Protectorate. According to her it happened when a strong and wealthy neighbouring country wanted to annex the country, and Bechuanaland, as it was then called, sent an emissary to England to ask for protection thus it became a British Protectorate until her independence on 30th September 1966. Up to the time of independence, Botswana was a small and poor country with a population of under a million, with 70% of her land in desert region, and without mineral resources.
But as providence would have it, in 1967 diamonds were found in commercial quantity and quality in the country. This changed the narrative of the country known for her poverty. She suddenly became vibrant, and underwent a rapid development with middle income class rose and surpassed any among the African nations. Botswana was described as “lucky” to have found the mineral after independence.
“Yes, we were lucky to have found it after the British had left,” the Ambassador agreed, imagining what would have happened if it were found before the country’s independence.
However, for the country’s success she gave credit to the country’s leaders, described them as visionary, dedicated and committed in their focus to turn the desert land to one that flows with ‘milk and honey.’ The success, she also attributed to the form of constitution the leaders provided for the country which is a fusion of Botswana’s traditional system blended with that of the British democratic system leading to the quality of live, political stability, prudent economy and developmental success “we now enjoy. A miracle!”
The earnings from diamond have since been judiciously invested on infrastructure to drive the country’s development. The country has sustainable, consistent power and water supplies in most parts, which accelerated the economic growth. For example, at independence in 1966 the country had only seven kilometers of tarred road but today she can boast of thousands of kilometer. The GDP which was about US$0.03 billion at independence, but had risen to US$ 15.27 billion in 2016, and US$17.22 billion in 2014 the highest level ever reached.
Coupled with more infrastructure in the areas of IT, building structure and human resources that have been in place, makes it possible for business people to access a bigger market in the Southern African region of over 250 million people. Botswana continues to develop rapidly making her the fastest growing economy in Africa, and a natural destination of choice for investors.
Ambassador Molokomme urged members of the SwissCham Southern Africa, and the Swiss business community at large to make Botswana their investment destination, assuring them of the good opportunities and reasonable incentives that are awaiting them.
In her presentation, Ms. Sophie Mautle said the country has embarked on diversification to boost her economy and attract investors. Adding that besides the diamond, Botswana is now going into farming: husbandry and livestock. A great investment opportunity among others.
She said the promotion of tourism is being intensified. Conservation of land has been embarked upon to maintain the natural state of the land and environment conducive to eco-tourism. The country provides safe haven for wild life. Botswana has a unique Safari, “untainted and refreshing.” She also informed the gathering of other tourists’ attractions in the country among them are: the Tsodilo hills and the Okavango Delta which have been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
However she asked how could one enjoy a country without knowing nothing about the citizens? To this she presented “Batswana as culturally hospitable people, and ready to assist.” She encouraged the gathering to visit the country, adding ‘seeing is believing.’
At the end of the presentations followed by Q and A, Mr. Georg C. Umbricht, the chairman of SCSA thanked the Ambassador for the presentation and assured her the information gathered would be passed on to those who were unable to attend. He then presented her a gift in remembrance of the occasion.