BOTSWANA’S SUCCESS DEMONSTRATES THAT AFRICA CAN
NEW YORK, 28 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the official opening of the Botswana International Trade Fair, in Gaborone on 27 August:
I am delighted to be here, and I think I speak for Nane and my entire team, when I say that the visit here is something that I have looked forward to for a very long time. I would like to thank President Mogae for inviting me to the official opening of the Botswana International Trade Fair.
This Trade Fair gives us a panorama of Botswana’s impressive economic achievements -- achievements which have enabled it to escape the ranks of the least developed countries (those we will discuss separately) -- and become a middle-income country.
This success eloquently demonstrates that Africa can overcome the problems of hunger, disease and war. Let me, therefore, salute the organizers and all the exhibitors for their commitment to a growing economy and a prosperous Botswana.
Botswana’s initiative to develop a comprehensive Foreign Direct Investment Strategy, as well as your efforts to introduce modern farm management techniques, to promote the development of service industries, and of export industries based on local natural resources, and to develop tourism, including eco-tourism, are all steps in the right direction.
Botswana’s efforts to improve market access have also yielded positive results, and by 2008, as a member of the Southern African Development Community, this country will be at the heart of a large free trade area that will give improved access to each other’s markets for 85 per cent of the goods produced in member countries.
Already, Botswana benefits -- as one of the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries -- from special access to the market of the European Union, as well as from the United States African Growth and Opportunity Act.
Prudent economic management, democratic governance, respect for human rights, and the high priority given to human development have led to major economic and social successes. But despite this enormous progress, Botswana still faces great challenges in the areas of poverty and unemployment, gender inequity, the protection of the environment -- and now, most tragically, from the devastating spread of HIV/AIDS.
I applaud Botswana’s efforts to tackle this terrible disease, in particular your aim to make Botswana the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to provide antiretroviral treatment to all who need it through the public health system. And yet we all know that more will be needed, including more resources, if the spread of HIV is to be halted.
The United Nations and its agencies are working every day at all levels to combat this scourge, as well as to address all the other formidable challenges that face Botswana and other developing countries.
I visited the Princess Marina Hospital this afternoon and saw the wonderful work that is been done there. I would also take the message out to the wider community that they need support and help from you.
It is therefore encouraging to see at this International Trade Fair, representatives of the peoples of the world, business and government, working side by side, in pursuit of a common objective.
Only if all actors put their energy, ideas and efforts together will Africa be able to find effective solutions to its problems and give life to the vision captured in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which offers so much hope for the renaissance of the continent.
In that spirit of cooperation and partnership, I hereby reaffirm the support of the United Nations for all your endeavours to make a better life for the people of Botswana.
I now have the honour and privilege to declare open the Botswana International Trade Fair.
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