Bots wants more African trade

Windhoek – Botswana’s High Commissioner to Namibia, Gobopang Lefhoko, says there is a need to enhance intra-African trade and do away with the obsession of importing commodities from outside Africa. In an interview with The Southern Times, Lefhoko – who took over from Norman Moleboge last November, said his reign here will see him working closely with government structures and regional blocks that deal with trade issues to work towards changing the current status quo concerning trade. He said most of the products imported by some African countries are found in neighbouring African countries, yet countries import the products from Europe and elsewhere. “There is an obsession to import everything from outside Africa. Such a tendency not only prevents African countries from benefiting from one another, but also sends a wrong message to other countries outside the continent who may want to do business in Africa,” he said. Lefhoko noted that if intra-African trade is encouraged, countries perceived to be poor will benefit through the direct exporting of their products to their neighbours and in return import necessities from near. “Angola imports beef from Portugal, while a country like Botswana or Namibia have plenty of beef available. “In fact, ironically, such countries export their beef to the European Community. Angola and others could for instance cut the route short by importing directly from its neighbours.” Lefhoko, a natural entrepreneur and a trained teacher, encouraged entrepreneurs across the region to critically assess and harness the ‘wealth of opportunities’ created by the various governments in the sub-region such as the development of the Trans-Kalahari Highway. “The Trans-Kalahari highway has been in existence for a while now but just drive along that route and you will see how few accommodation establishments are there. “One could easily drive from Mamuno (Namibia-Botswana Border town) to Jwaneng in Botswana without any proper accommodation place for an ideal stop over,” he said. Lefhoko served as Assistant Minister of Trade in Botswana prior to his appointment as High Commissioner to Namibia. Prior to that, he held various portfolios including that of Assistant Minister of Education, local councillor for Central district- Botswana’s demographically largest districts.

February 2010
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