As Prepared For Delivery | January 30, 2015 | Gaborone
Good morning. I am pleased to have presented my credentials today as the Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Botswana. What a privilege and one of the great honors in my life to be entrusted by the President of the United States to help represent the people of my country to the people of Botswana. I take this responsibility with great humility and great joy. I am delighted to be returning to Botswana where I served at the U.S. Embassy from 1995-1998. It feels like a homecoming to this unique and remarkable country my family and I love dearly.
There is nowhere I would rather serve. I now lead the United States Mission in one of Africa’s great democratic and development success stories. Botswana is one of the United States’ strongest, most reliable and valued partners in Africa.
The people of the U.S. and Botswana share many values, which provide a foundation for shared interests and priorities that allow our governments and societies to work together cooperatively and productively. Today I wish to briefly outline areas in which my government is committed to working with yours to further strengthen our partnership and deepen our engagement.
First, I look forward to strengthening our joint efforts to change the course of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief we have provided nearly $700 million dollars to support Botswana’s HIV/AIDS efforts. Today, Botswana is one of the few countries where the HIV epidemic has passed the “tipping point” – the point where for every one new person on treatment, there is less than one person newly infected. But we are not done. Every day here about 45 people become infected with HIV – this is 16,000 new infections annually. Together, we must focus more attention and resources on drivers of the epidemic that, if left unaddressed, will make it impossible to achieve an AIDS-free generation.
Second, we will continue to work together to address critical environmental challenges, and sustainably manage natural resources, particularly Botswana’s wildlife. We will continue to support Botswana’s efforts to establish a Wildlife Enforcement Network of Southern Africa, just as we proudly supported the designation of the Okavango Delta as UNESCO’s 1000th World Heritage Site. I look forward to redoubling our joint efforts to ensure that your natural treasures provide a source of sustainable income to Botswana’s people well in to the future.
Third, we will continue our joint work to enhance regional security. Our jointly managed International Law Enforcement Academy makes a significant contribution to our shared goals of strengthening democratic institutions, protecting human rights, combatting wildlife trafficking, and advancing peace and security across Africa. We appreciate the robust military cooperation we have with the Botswana Defence Force and look forward to strengthening our military ties.
Fourth, we want to strengthen our countries’ economic and business ties. The United States imports between 200 and 300 million dollars of goods and services from Botswana every year and is the top purchaser of polished diamonds, which comprise over 70 percent of Botswana’s exports. U.S. businesses and investors can make even greater contributions to Botswana’s economic prosperity.
Finally, we will continue our outreach to civil society and Batswana youth, including through small grants and programs such as President Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI).
I look forward to continuing to foster friendship between Botswana and the United States to achieve our nations’ shared goals and priorities.