07 Nov Botswana holds US-Africa Business Summit
President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi reveals the importance of the high-level annual event and details the strong relationship between the US and Botswana
In December last year, the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, joined 48 other leaders from African states in Washington, DC for the US-Africa Business Summit. The three-day event provided attendees with the opportunity to discuss trade and investment opportunities with some of America’s leading figures in the world of politics and business, including US Present Joe Biden.
An event of huge importance for the entire continent of Africa, the summit saw President Biden commit to investing $55 billion over the next three years toward a multitude of projects, with one specific area of focus being the development of renewable energy sources. This struck a particular chord with President Masisi as Botswana has committed to having renewable energy make up at least 30% of its energy mix by 2030.
“It was inevitable for the US to reconsider its approach towards Africa and prioritize it and there was great excitement when we attended the summit,” states Masisi. “Politically, Botswana has long been an ally of the US and we share common values and have engaged in numerous deals together. Notably, the US is the largest market globally for our most valuable export: diamonds.
“During the summit, we also focused on the concept of incorporating green practices into our economies and we highlighted the abundance of resources in Africa that could facilitate this transition. A portion of the $55 billion investment will be allocated to address areas such as green hydrogen and battery production for electric vehicles. In Botswana, our competitive advantage lies in the solar energy sector, particularly the conversion of sunlight into energy, given our substantial potential in this regard. We are eager to deepen our engagement with the US government, tap into available resources, and collaborate with both the US government and private sector in realizing our goals.”
Creating new relationships
Building on the success of the discussions in Washington, DC, Botswana was successfully chosen by the Corporate Council on Africa to host the US-Africa Business Summit earlier this year. Held in the capital of Gaborone, the four-day event brought together government and private-sector decision-makers for a series of panel discussions and round tables.
This event not only provided Botswana with the opportunity to outline its vision for the future but also showcase its unique offering, as Masisi explains: “We have a lot more to offer the US and I envision growth across various areas. We also want to be recognised for our pristine ecosystem, especially in the Okavango Delta, which is a prime destination for investment and tourism.
“Experiencing the wonders of nature and becoming one with it is truly awe-inspiring. That is why we have dedicated 40% of our land mass to conservation, an unprecedented commitment by our citizens, for the betterment of the global community. This helps us preserve the ecosystem and maintain our low-volume, high-value tourism strategy.”
The summit in Gaborone also provided the government with the opportunity to showcase the incredible work being done within the mineral sector, which has been an invaluable contributor to the national economy for the past five decades.
Within this sector, diamonds have been the leading component and Botswana has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with De Beers for more than 50 years. However, a new agreement with the British corporation will see the country increase the share of rough stones it mines over the next decade to 50% in a bid to move into the midstream of the business where diamonds are cut and polished.
“I envision a brilliant future for our mineral sector,” says Masisi. “We want to leverage the changes to our deal with De Beers to ensure that when a buyer purchases a diamond, they can be assured that the revenue generated from that sale will be used to build infrastructure or purchase life-saving medication in Botswana.
“We are committed to ensuring that our diamonds will always contribute to development, and this development extends beyond our borders. These resources are finite, which is why we need to transform their value swiftly and efficiently into sustainable human capital. We are prepared and ready.”