Nigeria and Botswana are set to sign a number of bilateral agreements to enhance economic and people to people cooperation between them.
Botswana Ambassador to Nigeria Pule Mpothwe made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on the sideline of his country and Nigeria’s independence anniversary on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 respectively.
Mpothwe said that the agreements would be signed during the 5th meeting of the Nigeria-Botswana Joint Commission in Gaborone likely to come up between October and November.
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“In 2018, Nigeria hosted the Nigeria-Botswana Joint Commission where a number of agreements were discussed and at the time we signed a cultural agreement.
“Botswana is preparing to host the fifth session of the commission. This time, I’m happy several agreements are in the offing to be signed.
“We are meant to sign agreements in agriculture cooperation, health sector cooperation, defence matters cooperation, judicial and legal assistance cooperation as well as youth and sports cooperation.
“These are some of the framework agreements. Once the two governments put pen to paper, it will be easier for people and businesses.”
Mpothwe described the relationship between both countries as very cordial, but said Nigeria and Botswana should enhance trade and other economic relations for their mutual benefit.
“In the context of Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement we should definitely be doing more. Nigeria is definitely the gateway into the massive opportunities presented by the AfCFTA,” he added.
According to the envoy, Botswana will share its experiences with Nigeria in the area of mining and beef production.
“In the mining sector, Botswana can share its good practices in mining legislation. There are opportunities also in other areas such as beef production.
“We see the economics in the conflict between herders and farmers in Nigeria. It can be turned around. Some of the cattle farmers in Nigeria can learn good lessons from us to really monetise these cattle, because that’s where we were many years ago,” Mpothwe said.
The Ambassador said, going forward, the two countries are likely to enter into a Bilateral Air Services Agreement.
“It is still work in progress”, he said, adding that an agreement of that nature would further unlock Botswana’s tourism sector.
“We will want to attract not just tourists but investors who will build lodges, hotels etc. We want to attract Nigerian travellers. We want them to come, bring their money to us and other African countries, not just going to places like Dubai.
“We have the world’s largest population of elephants, we have over 100,000.
“We have offered 30 elephants to Nigeria as long as they don’t go to a zoo, but placed in their natural habitats,” he added.
The Ambassador hailed Nigeria’s contribution to the growth of Botswana, describing it as massive.
“Politically, Nigeria has been very important to Botswana. In the 60s and 70s, alot of young students who did well in school came to Nigeria for their tertiary education.
“They became top officials in public and private sectors. Nigeria helped us a lot in terms of human resources development.
”Some of us when we grew up, the only Nigerians we knew were professionals. Many people in the judiciary, lecturers, medical doctors. In fact, we thought to be a Nigerian is synonymous to being a professional.”