Response of Ambassador of Russia to Botswana H.E. Victor I. Sibilev to the questions concerning the trip of former President H.E. Festus.G. Mogae
1. What is the purpose of Mr Mogae’s visit?
On June 11, 2019, H.E. Mr F. Mogae requested me to assist in facilitating his private trip to Russia, particularly Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sochi at the coast of the Black See which are the most popular touristic destinations in our country. Since I know him as a connoisseur of arts, especially, Russian classical literature and ballet, I agreed to render H.E. a good turn and aid to find partners in Russia ready to prepare the tour.
2. What was the subject of his meeting with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mr Mikhail Bogdanov?
Unfortunately, I was not at this meeting, that is why, all I know is the official information at our Foreign Ministry website. It is said that during the conversation they discussed the relevant items of the African agenda and the further development of Russia-Botswana relations based on the strong traditions of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with special attention paid to promoting bilateral ties in the humanitarian sphere, including education, tourism and culture. I am glad to present you its copy as well.
Mr. Mikhail Bogdanov is a Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa and H.E. Mogae was a President of Botswana and a Chair of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission in South Sudan. I guess they had a lot things to discuss.
3. Did they discuss and explore ways on how to futher cement Botswana and Russia’s long-standing bilateral relations?
Again I see that it is better to ask this question to H.E. Mr. F. Mogae. At the same time, I would like to believe that they drew attention to such issues as “Russia-Africa” Summit on October 24, 2019, followed by the respective Economic Conference where more than 40 African countries’ delegations will attend as well as a celebration on March 6, 2020 the 50 jubilee of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Botswana.
4. On the subject of investment, how many Russian investors do we have in Botswana, and what sectors are they in?
Well, if you ask me this question several years ago, I will tell you a lot about our big companies in Botswana such as “Norilsk Nickel” and “Alrosa”.
Until recently, the main Russian investment partner of Botswana was OJSC “Norilsk Nickel”. In the period fr om 2007 till 2015, industrial activities of the company in the country focused on the mining and processing enterprise «Tati Nickel Mining Company» (TNMC), which was co-owned (85:15) with the Government of Botswana. For this period “NorNickel” has implemented diverse programmes of social responsibility in Francistown. For instance, trained Batswana team and equipped mobile telemedical complex on the basis of KamAZ truck to give people from the remote areas of the country the access to medical care.
Given the leading positions of Russia and Botswana in the extraction and production of diamonds, there were broad prospects for bilateral cooperation through the Joint-Stock Company "Alrosa". The Russian corporation worked with the British diamond company «Botswana Diamonds» through a joint venture. According to the partnership agreement, Alrosa was conducting extensive diamond exploration in Orapa and Gope areas, with ground samples showing a geological anomaly. It might be indicative of substantial diamond deposits in the area. Alrosa had obtained the licenses from the Government of Botswana for exploration works in new districts from 2015 till 2018.
Unfortunately, both companies made a decision to leave Botswana market owing to changes in their internal strategies.
Over the past year, a number of Russian companies were studying the possibility of investing into the local economy or supplying their products to the Botswana The most promising partners are “Helicopters of Russia” which has participated in Botswana Global Expo recently and “Russian Railways” which are holding talks with Botswana Railways now. Rostech (Russian technologies), St. Petersburg Electrotechnical Company, Ulan-Uden Aviation Factory, Hydroproject Institute also expressed their interest in access to the Botswana market.We hope that the “Russia-Africa” Economic conference on October 23, 2019, wh ere representatives of Botswana business and state bodies will be invited, will give fresh impetus to trade and investment relations between our countries ahead of the “Russia-Africa” Summit.