Diplomatic relations between Botswana and Switzerland were established in 1967. Before 1967, only a few Swiss missionaries lived in Botswana. In the 1970s the number of Swiss citizens in Botswana increased. Switzerland came under the portfolio responsibility of the Permanent Mission of Botswana to the United Nations in Geneva in 2012 Botswana’s first Ambassador to Switzerland, His Excellency Mr. Mothusi B. R. Palai presented his Letters of Credence to the then President of the Swiss Federal Council, Her Excellency President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf on the 27th March 2012 in Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Switzerland is accredited to Botswana through its Embassy in Pretoria.
The Presentation of Credentials by Ambassador Palai paved way for deepening diplomatic and economic ties between Switzerland and Botswana. Since the presentation of credentials, the Mission has been keen on the promotion of trade and investment. The Ambassador has met several key actors, both in Government and the Private sector to enhance realtions between the two countries.
Since Botswana’s accredation to Switzerland, the Ambassador has been able to attend high-level events in Switzerland, for example, the Annual Presidential New Year’s Wishes by the President of the Swiss Conferderation and the African Ambassasdors New Year’s Reception hosted by the Swiss African Business Circle held in January among other things.
The Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Honourable Ponatshego H. K. Kedikilwe visited Switzerland at the invitation of a private company in Switzerland called Richold SA in August 2010. Richold SA is the leading supplier of renowned worldwide watch and jewellery products. The Minister also attended the Basel Watch Fair in 2012. The Basel Watch Fair is the world’s biggest event of the watch and jewellery industry. It is an event where the most renowned brands present their newest collections and creations of the new year. The Minister of Trade and Industry also took a tour of the Richold Watch Factory in Geneva in October 2013 during her visit to Switzerland to attend the 2013 World International Property Organization (WIPO) Assemblies. Lastly, the Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Honourable Olebile M. Gaborone visited Switzerland in June 2014, leading a business delegation on a bilaterla trade and investment Mission. During his visit, he also toured the Richold Watch Factory.
Swiss Nationals in Botswana
As of the end of 2012, 68 Swiss nationals were living in Botswana. Switzerland has appointed an honorary consul, who resides in the capital, Gaborone.
During the trade and investment promotion mission to Switzerland in JUne 2013, The Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Honourable Olebile M. Gaborone, met the Swiss State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Yves Rossier and raised the possibility of drawing up a general cooperation agreement between Botswana and Switzerland. The Swiss advised that since the two countries had just started their dealings officially and due to the limited activities that have been undertaken in the few areas that are currently active, it would be better to give this matter more time to mature.
Currently, the only agreement between Botswana and Switzerland is the Agreement on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investment. The Agreement was signed in 1998 and entered into force in 2004.The main aim of the agrement is to maintain favourable conditions for investment between Botswana and Switzerland with the overll objective of fostering economic prosperity in both countries.
There also exisit a bilaterl Free Trade Agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The agreement enetred into force in 2008. Its main objective is to strengtehn the links between Europe and Southern Africa and establish close and lasting relationships and cooperation. Botswana intends to use this platform to enjoy the benefits of foreign trade and investment between the two organizations.
Trade and Investment
Most of Switzerland’s outward foreign direct investment is concentrated in Europe. The Mission has been negotiating with the Swiss Government authorities on ways through which Botswana could benefit from Swiss Assistance. At the Private Sector level, the Mission has undertaken a number of promotional activities and participated at several platforms to advance Botswanata’s interests in Switzerland, namely:
Botswana Business Week 2013
The Mission, with the assistance of the Swiss African Business Circle, Botswana Investment and Trade Centre and Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower, hosted a successful “Botswana Business Week” from 10 – 14 June 2013 in Geneva and Zurich. The aim of the event was to market Botswana to the Swiss community, with a view to promote trade, investment and tourism to Botswana.
The event presented an opportunitiy for the delegation of Botswana led by the Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Honourable Olebile M. Gaborone, an opportunitiy to meet Swiss government officials and business leaders. The Botswana business delegation had the opportunity to hold one-on-one meetings with their counterparts in Switzerland and create links. On the government side, the Minister made a request to the Swiss Government to consider waivering visa requirements for Batswana Official and Diplomatic Passport holders. This would be reciprocity since the Swiss nationals do not required visas to enter Botswana. The Mission has submitted the official request to the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and is awaiting a response.
Swiss African Business Circle (SABC) New Year’s Reception
Since 2013, the Ambassador has been participating at the annual receptions for African Ambassadors hosted by the SABC in Bern. Besides celebrating the beginning of the new year, the event provides a platform to further foster the contacts between the member companies of the SABC and the African Ambassadors and companies in their respective countries. The Mission has been working closely with the SABC to identify investors in Switzerland. The SABC is a business-to-business and a partner for business contacts and links between Switzerland and Africa. So far, the Mission has been able to make contact with several companies in Switzerland in its endeavour to promote Botswana’s interests, namely; Zurich International Airport; NewSat Communications; Banca Svizzera Italiana; Greater Geneva Berne Area; Swiss Reinsurance Company; Kamgaing Associates
Africa Business Day
The Mission participated at the Africa Business Day hosted by the Swiss African Business Circle in June 2013 in Zurich. The event gave countries an opportunitiy to showcase their trade, investment and tourism opportunities. Botswana was among the countries that put up a country stall at the event. New business contacts were made. The Mission was also informed on what Swiss companies were doing in Africa. They gave their valuable experiences of doing business in Africa.
Membership to the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce
The Mission is a member of the the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce (BSCC). The BSCC provides a professional environment for business people who wish to become part of the Bristish-Swiss business community. The BSCC holds several events in a year to ensure that its members get their benefits namely; Building valuable business relationships; Expanding professional networks; locating potentila client, business partners and suppliers; Gaining access to the international busines community; Free use of the BSCC Conference facility at its Headquraters in Zurich
The Mission attended a business luncheon hosted by the BSCC on the 14th January 2014 in Geneva where Sir Jackie Stewart (Scottish former Formula One champion) was the Guest of Honour. The theme of the lunchen was “Business of Sport”. The message that came out of Sir Jakie Stewart’s speech was the role of motor sport in development. He highlighted on the benefits that could be accrued from the big-money sport of Formula One. Sir Jackie Stewart has an organization that deals with the disabilty of Dyslexia, having lived with the diability for many years. Dyslexia Scotland works with schools and helps teachers to recognize the disability and deal with it sensitively. The Mission intends to make follow up with Dyslexia Scotland to see how it can be of assistance to the same disability in Botswana.
Auction of Botswana Diamond in Geneva
Ambassador Mothusi B. R. Palai was one of the guests at the auction of one of the Botswana’s largest diamonds on the 15th May 2013 in Geneva. The diamond was auctioned by Christie’s Geneva. The diamond, which was mined at Jwaneng Mine, was sold for USD23 million. This event put Botswana on the world map as one of the top producers of quality diamonds.
Enquiries have revealed that Botswana is not a priority country for Swiss Development Aid due to her Middle Income Status. However, the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), which falls unfer the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, provides Botswana support through the Regional Programme for Southern Africa under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community SADC. Through the SDC, Switzerland participates in the “Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative” (REPSSI), whose purpose is to ensure that children affected by AIDS, poverty, and conflicts, have access to the care and psychosocial counselling they require. In a different domain, the “New Seed Initiative for Maize in Southern Africa” seeks to improve food security for farmers in Botswana by developing and promoting new varieties of seeds that produce yields of greater size and higher nutritive value.
Batswana travelling to Switzerland require a Schengen visa. The visa can be obatined from the Embassy of Switzerland in Pretoria. The Mission would like to make Batswana aware that the Swiss Government has introduced a new Visa Information System which stores biometric data of applicants. As a result, applicants are required to present themselved in persorn at the Swiss Embassy in Pretoria with duly filled forms when applying for the visa.
Permanent Mission of Botswana
to the United Nations – Geneva
Rue de Lausanne, 80
1202 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 906 10 60
Fax: +41 22 906 10 61