Nigeria and the Republic of Botswana will soon commence discussions on the possibility of signing a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) that will enable airlines from both nations operate direct flights into each other’s cities, it was gathered by our reporter.
A source familiar with the development between the two countries told our reporter in Lagos that the Botswana government is desirous of expanding its diplomatic relations with Nigeria and recently appointed a Nigerian and Vice President, Corporate and Government Relations of Olam International, Mr. Ade Adefeko, as Botswana’s Honourary Consul to Nigeria in Lagos in order to promote the country’s trade and business opportunities to Nigerians.
The source, who craves anonymity, said plans are underway for a meeting between the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and a delegation from Botswana to cement the BASA deal in a matter of weeks.
Checks showed that no airline operates direct flights from Nigeria to Gaborone, the capital city of the tiny Southern Africa country as travelers have to transit through either South Africa or Addis Ababa, a voyage many consider stressful and cumbersome, hence the need to establish direct flights from cities in Nigeria.
According to our source, “it has been realized that many Nigerians are eager to invest and set up businesses in Botswana across various categories of industries and opportunities abound in aviation, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, animal husbandry, light packaging etc.” Our source said “the aim of these interest groups is to address the challenges of connecting both countries as quickly as possible before all these objectives can come to fruition”.
The official said “the government wants to bring citizens of Botswana to experience the rich and diverse cultures of Nigeria and also take Nigerians to Botswana to experience nature at its best.” The source said , it was all about bilateral mutual cooperation in exploiting the comparative advantages present in the two countries.
He added that “Botswana had a lot to offer in terms of its agrarian advancement, even though at the same time, some consider it to be non-agrarian due to its desert landscape. The source said, there is not much that can be grown in Botswana and that a lot of food comes from South Africa. In his words, “here lies the opportunity for Nigeria, that irrespective of the distance, Nigerians should be encouraged to get food that is available here, with our fertile soul which is able to produce many different variety of food stuff all year round, across to Botswana.” Our source noted that the BASA between both countries will greatly help simplify this exchange of goods and services.”
Both countries’ business communities should take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Association (AFCTA) to increase trade between them, he said further.
On the subject of tourism potentials in the country, our reporter through his contacts in the diplomatic and business circles reported that Botswana has simplified its visa processes. As many Nigerians like going to Dubai, London and other places around the world, Botswana is said to boast of many exotic destinations for tourism like, the Okavango Delta, a place where you discover nature at its very best with lots of game reserves patronized by many royalties and celebrities from across Europe and America.
Concluding, our source said, “tourism is very advanced in Botswana and Nigerians like to travel, the problem is that, if you don’t give them a visa before travelling or on arrival, it becomes a big problem. He said Botswana has worked on its visa processing and that you can get your visa on arrival in Botswana or you can get it in Abuja or Lagos.
Asked about the details of this agreement, the Botswana Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Pule Mphothwe said he is not aware of this development, an explanation that appeared to this writer as a diplomatic way of keeping this plan under wraps until it comes to light.
It is my hope that the BASA talks between Nigeria and Botswana kicks off as soon as possible, as there are indeed great business opportunities and jobs that will materialize from the translation of these commendable objectives into reality.