A senior leadership team from the African Development Bank Group has arrived in the southern African capital Gaborone, on the first leg of an official visit to Botswana and Zimbabwe. The delegation is led by Acting Vice President, Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery Yacine D. Fal.
It includes Prof. Kevin Chika Urama, Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for the Economic Governance and Knowledge Management Complex; Director General for the Southern Africa region, Leila Mokaddem; Deputy Director General Kennedy Mbekeani, Martha Phiri, Director of the Bank’s Human Capital, Youth and Skills Department, and Jean-Guy Afrika, the African Development Bank’s Acting Director for the Regional Integration Coordination Office.
In Botswana from 4-5 April, the team will meet with several government and industry leaders, including the deputy minister of Finance Olesitse H. Masimega. Their discussions will centre on the Bank’s support to Botswana’s economic transformation agenda and a post-Covid-19 economic recovery. The Bank has provided $137 million in loans to support Botswana’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
The delegation will also hold talks with the Southern African Development Community’s Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Dr. Thembinkosi Mhlongo. They will discuss areas of strategic interest to the SADC region, including the implementation of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), and the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). SADC ‘s main objectives are to achieve development, security and economic growth, to alleviate poverty and support the socially disadvantaged of the southern Africa region through regional integration.
The visit underscores the African Development Bank’s firm commitment to the southern African region’s growth prospects and to deepen engagement with SADC at the strategic and technical levels, Fal said.
“We will take stock of ongoing regional integration efforts. We need to continue to encourage the free flow of goods and services across our borders, removal of tariff barriers and to scale up regional value chains,” Fal said.
The African Development Bank Group’s active portfolio in Botswana amounts to $223 million. The portfolio is dominated by multi-sector projects which account for the largest segment. Sixty-two percent of this falls under the Economic Recovery Support Program, 36.3% to financial support, with the rest financing the country’s agriculture, industrial and power sectors.
In Zimbabwe, from 5-8 April, the delegation will meet President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa and other members of government. Talks will focus on Bank support to Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance. They team will also meet executives of the African Capacity Building Foundation, as well as private sector and various non-regional partners.
In Zimbabwe, the Bank Group currently supports 15 initiatives valued at $176 million. These include the rehabilitation of infrastructure in the energy, water and sanitation sectors, financed through resources from the ZimFund.