From: Beatrice Akua Asamani, GNA Special Correspondent, Gaborone, Botswana
Gaborone (Botswana), May 5, GNA - Botswana President Festus Gontebanye Mogae says his country is appreciative of the contributions of Ghanaians towards his country's socio-economic development efforts. President Mogae said this when Ghana's Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, paid a courtesy call on him at his office at Gaborone.
Vice President Mahama is in Botswana to participate in the "Ghana - Botswana Expo" aimed at forging fruitful trade and investment relations between the two countries and their sub-regional blocs, the Economic Community of West African States and the South African Development Community.
President Mogae spoke about the human ties that have long bound the two countries together, saying his country was committed to deepening the relations at all levels for the mutual benefit of the citizenry. There are about 2,000 Ghanaians, mostly professionals, working in various sectors, especially education, in Botswana.
President Mogae also spoke fondly of some of his own experiences in Ghana during the 1970s when he was Alternate Governor for Botswana at the International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and subsequently the IMF Executive Director for Anglophone Africa.
Vice President Mahama stressed Ghana's determination to establish business and cultural relations with Botswana, saying his trip was indicative of the significance his country attached to building practical relations.
"I have come to champion the need for Africa to take the lead in doing business in Africa," he stated.
"We are serious with doing business with you and we would partner you at all levels of the economy to jointly develop our resources to make life more meaningful for our people."
He observed that while there had been a lot of talk about inter-African trade and investment over the years there hadn't been much in terms of action.
He, however, expressed his confidence that the Ghana - Botswana Expo 2005 would prove to be a practical showcase of the collective potential of partnership between the nations and regions of the Continent.
"Promoting Investment and Integration through Trade and Culture," is the theme of the four-day fair with about 500 participants showcasing trade, investments and cultural products.
Vice President Mahama further noted that in addition to shared-history and common vision of African nations, they faced the same fundamental challenges, most notably the need to overcome poverty and disease.
The two leaders also discussed some of the common challenges affecting the economic sectors of their respective countries, as well as the Continent as a whole.
Lt.Gen. Mompati Merafhe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Botswana, Mr Kwadwo Affram-Asiedu, Ghana's Deputy Minister of Trade and senior officials of both countries attended the meeting.