Botswana youth expect new opportunities from China-Africa initiatives

Botswana’s young people are inspired by China-Africa initiatives on the African development, expecting new opportunities and better jobs for them and changes in the southern African country.

Masego Maifala, a 25-year-old worker in the capital Gaborone, said he enjoys working together with the Chinese fellows in his clothing factory. “They always come up with solutions for almost all challenges we face in the factory and they also understand the rules easily,” he said.

But Maifala was also among the hundreds of young Batswana who attended the 2018 Diamond Symposium that opened on Saturday. The symposium is dubbed a catalyst for entrepreneurship. Botswana is known for its rich diamond resources.

Young people like Maifala at the symposium feel inspired by the joint initiatives with China on Africa’s development outlined in early September during the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

They believed new opportunities and changes will come along with the initiatives to be carried out from 2019 to 2021. They expected the planned promotion of industrial development, capacity building and people-to-people exchanges will help Botswana a lot, which currently sells rough diamonds only, far from realizing the sector’s high added value.

Tebogo Moloi, 24, a civil engineering graduate from the University of Botswana, thought that with industrial promotion, more Chinese enterprises will come, bringing investment and more jobs.

In his hometown of Francistown, the country’s second-largest city located some 430 km northeast of Gaborone, a Chinese company has built a state-of-the-art interchange known locally as the “spaghetti road,” he said, and many high-rise buildings are emerging there.

“I’m currently working with a Chinese construction company. And some of my friends are now working with Chinese companies in different types of projects,” said Moloi.

He praised as remarkable the progress made in infrastructure development, textile industry, and information technology among others, thanks to the Chinese investment and enterprises.

“However, little is being realized in the diamond sector. We are looking forward to our government working with the Chinese in driving diversification and value addition in the diamond sector,” Moloi added.

People engaged in the import business of jewelry products from countries like China and India also hope the Africa-China initiative on trade facilitation will enable them to earn more.

Then, “I think it is also going to make it easy for me to get products from here or China at a very cheaper price,” said Thato Masupe.

The 32-year-old businesswoman also wants to make jewelry, saying this can accelerate the transaction process to better meet the demands of her clients, and that she needs machinery and a Chinese business partner.

Businessman Lorato Edward said he hopes that trade facilitation will help Botswana’s importers and exporters to establish a direct link with the Chinese producers and buyers.