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Tunis, Tunisia, 31 July 2009 – The African development Bank (AfDB) Group President, Donald Kaberuka, will undertake a two-day official visit to Botswana, aimed at strengthening cooperation with the country, especially in relation to the financial crisis.
Top on the agenda of the 2-4 August 2009 visit is the signing of the agreement for a US$ 1.5 billion budget support loan approved by the AfDB Board in June to help fill part of the gap in the government’s 2009/2010 budget deficit caused by falling commodity prices, particularly diamonds, the mainstay of the country’s well-managed economy.
The loan falls within the framework of the recently approved strategy by the Bank to provide support to member countries affected by the financial crisis and is the largest such facility ever granted by the Bank.
It is the first such borrowing by Botswana in 17 years, from the Bank. Previously the country several times contributed to the replenishment of the African Development Fund (ADF), the soft window of the Bank Group.
The role of the Bank in mitigating the effects of the global economic downturn on African economies such as Botswana will be the main theme of President Kaberuka’s breakfast meeting with the press on 3 August in Gaborone. He is expected to discuss the Bank’s propositions for tailor-made solutions to mitigate the impact of the crisis, working with government and the private sector.
Mr. Kaberuka is also scheduled to hold discussions with President Sereste Khama and Finance and Development Planning Minister, Baledzi Gaolathe. Other top government officials and key public and private sector operators will get an idea of the Bank’s activities in general, and what it is doing to assist African countries affected by the global economic crisis during a working lunch to be hosted by Minister Gaolathe.
According to the programme, the AfDB President and his delegation which includes the Senior Advisor to the Executive Director for Botswana, Wilfred Mandlebe, Country Director, Abdirahman Beileh and Governance Director, Gabriel Negatu, will round off the visit with a tour of the facilities of the Diamond Trading Company (DTC), the largest and most advanced diamond sorting facility in the world, or one of the Diamond Manufacturing Companies.
Since the commencement of lending operations in Botswana in 1973, the Bank has funded 32 operations with a total net commitment of about UA1.3 billion, focusing on social sectors, transport, communication, agriculture, finance and water supply and sanitation. This amount excludes emergency assistance.
Currently, there are two ongoing operations, the Pandamatenga agriculture infrastructure project and economic diversification support loan approved on 2 June 2009.
Besides lending operations, the Bank has provided some UA2.1 million under the Middle Income Countries (MIC) Trust Fund in support of non-lending operations: agriculture sector review, capacity building in Ministry of Agriculture, fast tracking the implementation of Vision 2016, corporate governance code, institutional strengthening of local government authorities for effective service delivery, and Kazungula bridge. It has also provided UA1.45 million under the Infrastructure Projects Preparation Facility (IPPF) in support of the Kazungula Bridge.
A new Country Strategy Paper (CSP) covering the period 2008-20019 was approved by the AfDB Board on 2 June, 2009. This new strategy focuses on expanding private sector investment and removing infrastructure bottlenecks to enhance competitiveness and growth.
(* 1 UA Units of Account) = 1.58223 US$ on 20/07/2009