Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi pledged on Wednesday that Mozambique wishes to develop more fruitful economic cooperation with Botswana, so that it reaches the same level as the political cooperation between the two countries.
He was speaking at a banquet offered in honour of his Botswanan counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi, on the first day of a three day state visit to Mozambique.
Nyusi argued that, in order to ensure closer cooperation, both countries should create favourable condition for the business class. The main areas of investment, he said, should be agriculture, livestock, transport and communications, tourism, mining and energy.
He added that it is essential to awaken the capacity of business people to transform the resources that exist in both countries to the benefit of their citizens.
Nyusi stressed the political stability enjoyed by both Mozambique and Botswana as a preponderant factor for development projects.
"We in Mozambique are ready to embark with total openness and in partnership with the government of Botswana on a new path which, through concrete projects and programmes, will write pages of honour and glory in our cooperation", he declared.
Nyusi praised the example of democracy that Botswana has given to the world and particularly to southern Africa. He believed that the form of governance adopted in Botswana would allow it to make "a qualitative leap towards progress and development transforming it into an ever stronger nation".
For his part, Masisi pointed to health, agriculture and food security as sectors in which Botswana and Mozambican could cooperate. He was also willing to work towards improving the road links between the two countries, which would go through Zimbabwe.
"Through a cooperation resting on infrastructures, we can build roads that connect Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and thus create well-being for our nations and our peoples", he said.
One very specific improvement in transport links is an agreement signed earlier in the day that will allow Air Botswana to fly to Mozambique. The agreement was signed by the Mozambican and Botswanan Foreign Ministers, Jose Pacheco and Unity Dow.
The Botswanan minister told a press conference after the signing ceremony that Air Botswana has invested in new aircraft with which it will begin flights to Mozambique. "By the end of 2019 we will have our company flying to Mozambique", she said.
Currently anyone wishing to fly between the two countries must change planes in Johannesburg. This inconvenience will soon be over, promised Pacheco, "since both countries have the political and commercial will".
Dow saw direct flights as a way of bringing more tourists to Botswana. "We know that wildlife are the diamonds of tomorrow", she said. "We are going to be a tourist destination, taking advantage of the fact that Mozambique is a gateway to the world".
The two ministers also signed a memorandum of understanding in the area of arts and culture, with the aim of promoting cultural tourism. The intention is to set up programmes that allow artistic and cultural interchanges.
"We think that southern Africa, as a whole, has as yet unexplored skills and capacities that can create cultural tourism", said Dow.
Preceding Masisi's visit was a meeting of the Mozambique-Botswana Joint Permanent Commission, which agreed on the sale of Mozambican electricity to Botswana. "We can immediately sell 70 megawatts of power to Botswana ", said Pacheco. But rather than simply selling electricity, "the two sides have reached consensus on setting up partnerships for the generation and transmission of electricity, in accordance with the various projects that Mozambique has in this area".
The two sides also agreed to reactivate plans to build a deep water mineral port at Techobanine in the southernmost Mozambican district of Matutuine. This would be used to export Botswanan minerals, notably coal, and would involve building a new railway from Botswana through Zimbabwe to the far south of Mozambique. The project is strongly opposed by environmentalists.
Pacheco also announced that the two sides are finalising agreements on defence and security. Botswana claims that it has the best police academy on the continent, and last year its police force was classified as the most disciplined in Africa. The Botswanan government believes it can help train the Mozambican police and other security forces.