Remarks for Ambassador Van Vranken Reception for the SADC RDOAG at the CMR

Wednesday, September 13, 2023, 5:30 p.m.

As prepared for delivery

Thank you all for joining me at my house today. I am honored to be your host as we celebrate the signing of the USAID-SADC Regional Development Objective Agreement that we signed in July. This agreement is worth over $220 million over five years and will support shared USG-SADC objectives in the areas of Economic Growth; Education and Youth; Environment and Energy; Democracy and Governance, and Health.

The United States and SADC share a longstanding partnership that has been forged over many years. This partnership is founded on shared values, mutual respect, and a commitment to addressing the challenges and opportunities that our nations and communities face together.

Development assistance has played a pivotal role in strengthening our relationship. The United States is deeply committed to supporting the development goals of SADC countries, recognizing that sustainable development is a pathway to prosperity, stability, and a brighter future for all.

This agreement is not just a document on paper. It is a symbol of our shared vision for a better future. It signifies our pledge to work shoulder to shoulder with the SADC countries, respecting their sovereignty, and helping to unlock the immense potential that resides within this region.

Since we’ve signed this agreement, I’ve had the opportunity to visit some of USAID’s sites in Botswana, work that will continue under this agreement. Through our USAID Africa Trade and Investment work, I recently visited the Organic Fertilizer Manufacturers Botswana where I saw first-hand how eager Batswana are to increase food security and diversity in the economy of the country by increasing exports.

This agreement is also a testimony to our continued support to SADC. We are about to embark on our second year of support to SADC’s efforts to fight illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing and promote the blue economy. This time last year, our Regional Environment Office, on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, issued a $950,000 grant to Botswana-based NGO, Stop Illegal Fishing, to support SADC’s support SADC’s newly established Monitoring, Control, Surveillance Coordination Centre (MCSCC) in Maputo through capacity building to Namibia, Angola, and South Africa to fight illegal fishing in SADC Atlantic waters. This grant, like the DOAG, also demonstrates our recognition of the political leadership of SADC and its members, from its signature on the Protocol on Fisheries in 2001, to the SADC Charter establishing the MCSCC in Maputo, singed in March with the help of Botswana to get it over the finish line.

Every day that I am Ambassador here, I am inspired by the people of Southern Africa. Their resilience, their cultural vibrancy, and their steadfast determination to take ownership of their own future is what makes me so excited about this agreement and the years to come. The agreement outlines coordination between SADC and the U.S. government, as well as a commitment to work with local non-governmental actors, other donors, regional organizations, and the private sector.

Let us champion the voices and aspirations of the people of this region, and let us ensure that every action we take is a step towards greater self-reliance and prosperity.
In closing, I want to express my deep appreciation to the dedicated teams from both the United States and the SADC countries who have worked tirelessly to make this agreement a reality. Together, we are embarking on a path of shared prosperity, one that is grounded in the principles of partnership.

Thank you once again for joining us tonight, and I look forward to witnessing the positive impact that this agreement will have on the lives of the people we serve.