GABORONE, November 12, 2010 -- World Bank Vice President for Africa, Obiageli K. Ezekwesili, on Thursday completed a two-day trip to Botswana where she visited development projects financed by the World Bank and Botswana’s development partners.
On her first day in the country, Ezekwesili met with President Seretse Khama Ian Khama. Later in the visit she also met with Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo and Energy And Water Resources Minister Ponatshego Kedikilwe.
“I am delighted to have an opportunity to visit Botswana, and would like to sincerely thank President Khama and Ministers Kedilwe and Matambo for fruitful discussions and gracious hospitality,” Ezekwesili said. “Our discussion focused on Botswana’s development challenges precipitated by the global financial and economic crises.”
“The World Bank is committed to its partnership with Botswana and supporting the country’s efforts to diversify the economy, improve service delivery, achieve energy security, and enhance competitiveness with a view to improving the lives of all Batswana citizens,” Ezekwesili added.
The World Bank has four active projects in Botswana and partners with the government to carry out development agendas aimed at enhancing public sector effectiveness, fighting HIV/AIDS, increasing competitiveness and the protecting the environment.
“I look forward to continuing the close cooperation that exists between the Government of Botswana and the World Bank Group, and accelerating the fight against poverty by improving health, mobilizing ICT, and enhancing competitiveness, all for the common good,” Ezekwesili said.
During her trip, Ezekwesili visited the Tlokweng area outside Gaborone to get a snapshot of urban water supply systems being implemented by the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC). Drawing on its global experience in the water sector, the World Bank is providing fee-based technical assistance to the Government of Botswana and advice on assessing implementation capacity, building a reform map, and stakeholder consultations and outreach to communities.
Ezekwesili went on to visit several projects supported by the World Bank and its partners that focus on energy, HIV/AIDS, and information and communication technology.
World Bank contributions to energy development in Botswana include a US$136.4 million loan for the Morupule ‘B’ Generation and Transmission Project that aims to secure a reliable supply of electricity and prepare a low-carbon growth strategy. Botswana is poised to play a leading role in the energy sector and has the potential to develop its Coal-Bed Methane (CBM) industry which could replace existing diesel thermal generation, both within Botswana and more widely within the Southern African Power Pool countries of Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Lesotho, Democratic Republic Of Congo, Tanzania, Zimbabwe. This would lead to lower carbon emissions and serve as a source of export earnings for Botswana.
Botswana has made impressive strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The adult prevalence rate is 24 percent, and today over 90 percent of HIV/AIDS-affected individuals receive antiretroviral therapy through a program that offers ART at no cost to all citizens.
In partnership with the Botswana Institute of Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA), the World Bank is co-hosting a “development dialogue” on Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D). Two-thirds of Africans now live in range of a GSM signal, and the sector has attracted over $50 billion in private sector investment. Yet, despite these successes, challenges remain. To stimulate growth, southern Africa, including Botswana, urgently needs broadband growth that is low-cost, high-capacity, with in-built redundancy. The dialogue is an open forum to advance debate and inform policymakers and other stakeholders about Africa-wide trends in ICT4D, showcasing global and African success stories about how ICT4D is being used to improve delivery of public services, promote transparency and accountability.
Botswana was the third country Ezekwesili visited in her 10-day Africa trip. Her first two stops were in Rwanda and Burundi and she will finish in the Kingdom of Lesotho from November 11 to 13.