Diversification a must
29 June, 2007
VIENNA – Botswana has been warned about the danger of relying on one commodity for economic sustenance.
Director of the United Nations Development Organisation (UNIDO), Dr Kandeh Yumkella said in a meeting with President Festus Mogae on Thursday that many countries were becoming popular because of their mineral wealth.
However, he warned about the folly of neglecting other sectors of the economy. Instead, he advised the countries to do all they could to diversify into other industries. He said ministers of trade should be vocal on the issue of economic diversification.
Dr Yumkella said energy is another problem facing africa as some countries cannot go for 24 hours without electricity interruptions. He said in Sierra Leone, for instance, there is electricity interruption every hour.
He said his agency was therefore putting emphasis on power for development and the issue is a priority of their agenda.
He said they are working with SADC and other regional economic groupings to promote discussions in that area.
He told President Mogae that industrial pollution is another area of concern, adding that global industrial development in Africa is not given much attention.
For his part, Mr Mogae admitted that economic diversification is a topical issue and that it is being given serious attention in Botswana.
He informed Dr Yumkella that the country dependents on diamonds which will not last forever.
However, Mr Mogae emphasised that it is through the diamonds that the country has been able to develop.
He said the government has given education and training a priority so that when the diamonds get finished, there should be a well trained human resource.
He said it is expected that power supply will improve when the power station being built at Mmamabula is operational. He said since coal will be used at that power station, pollution will occur.
The President agreed that the issue of pollution was equally important, adding that rivers should be protected against pollution.
He said the question of water supply for Botswana and Namibia was perennial.
noting that in Botswana we explore water as we do with minerals. He told Dr Yumkella that the country is to a large extend dependent on underground water.
During a meeting with officials at IAEA, Mr Mogae informed them that capacity building is an area where the country is still lacking behind and the possibility of IAEA assisting is being explored.
Also, he disccused secarcity of water, saying it is also concern in neighbouring South Africa. He said lakes are shrinking, citing Lake Ngami and Sabuti Channel.
The IAEA officials assured Mr Mogae that they are ready to help the country on pest control, especially tsetse fly. Officials commended Botswana for being a good member which must be assisted.
Mr Mogae was in Vienna to attended the 7the United Nations Global Forum on reinventing government.
Before he left Austria, he was interviewed by a newspaer journalist, Mr Alexander Mathe.
When asked what reinventing government means, Mr Mogae said the word is extravangantly used so that it reaches the ear properly.
He emphasised the need for government to maintain trust of its citizens by being transparant and allowing debate on its policies and programmes.
He said democracy is a working process and attending such forums enable countries to exchange notes.
He told his interviewer that Botswana has always maintained democratic values even before the country attained independence. He said most African countries were multiparty democracies when they started in the 50s.
One party state became fashionable in the 1970s to the extend that when SADC was formed in 1980, Botswana was the only one which was a multiparty democracy in the regional grouping.
Meanwhile, Minister of Justice, Defence and Security, Mr Phandu Skelemani on Wednesday highlighted some of the reforms that government has undertaken to make the public service effeicient and effective.
Mr Skelemani was also in Vienna where he addressed a ministers plennary [continue reading]