Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to welcome you here this evening.
I would like to recognize our co-sponsor BancABC, our partners from the American Business Council in Botswana (“the ABC”), Business Botswana, representatives from the Government of Botswana, and the media. Protocol observed.
As you will hear tonight, Botswana and the United States have an extremely healthy and mutually beneficial relationship. We have worked together for decades in health, security, and the shared prosperity of the citizens of both of our countries.
In the health sector, our PEPFAR team has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to help control and contain HIV/AIDS, extending the lives of thousands of Batswana.
In matters of security, the Department of Homeland Security and the Botswana Police Service co-manage the International Law Enforcement Academy in Otse and our Department of Defense partners very effectively with the Botswana Defence Force. In fact, a delegation from the North Carolina National Guard was here just recently for joint exercises with the BDF.
A civilian delegation from the state of North Carolina, my home State, accompanied the National Guard to explore extending our relationship to include areas of education and economic development. North Carolina government representatives, visited the Botswana Innovation Hub, talked investment and deal flow with the Botswana Development Corporation, and sat down with business leaders to understand how we could work together to create opportunities for businesses in the United States and in Botswana.
The partnership on economic development is nothing new. U.S. businesses have been active in Botswana since independence. Our locomotives move Botswana Railways’ trains, our machines help unearth diamonds and build roads, and our hotels, like the new Hilton Garden Inn in the CBD, host visitors to this great country (no offense to our hosts at the Avani.
U.S. government agencies also partner with the Government of Botswana to help build an enabling environment for business. We recently had a team from the United States Trade Development Agency in Gaborone working with the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board on improving government procurement. We have multiple teams collaborating with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to improve management of public finances and establish sustainable anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing practices. In addition, I would be remiss if I did not mention our work with CIPA to bolster intellectual property rights enforcement, and with BPC and the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology, and Energy Security to help bring solar energy into Botswana.
Creating the enabling environment is just a part of our efforts in Botswana. The part we want to focus on tonight is how United States government resources allow small and mid-sized enterprises to grow and create local jobs. Over the last few years, my government has injected billions of pula–billions of pula– into Botswana’s economy through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, USAID’s Development Credit Authority, and the United States Trade Development Agency. Tonight you will hear directly from the companies utilizing those resources and how they benefit the people of Botswana on a daily basis.
With six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world and over one billion consumers, Africa is poised to play a pivotal role in the global economy. Meanwhile, producers in Africa see a U.S. consumer market of more than 300 million people that already has a purchasing power of $13 trillion — the largest in the world.
A greater connection between the U.S. and African private sectors will expand markets for U.S. goods and services and contribute to more self-reliant, prosperous, and stable African countries. American companies not only bring significant capital, innovation, and proven solutions, but also adhere to the highest standards of transparency, quality, and social responsibility.
My top priority as Ambassador to the Republic of Botswana is to find ways to increase trade and investment between our two great nations. So, for the rest of the evening, please listen to the wonderful stories from our presenters and think about how initiatives like these could help your business.