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SEZA, BUAN signs MoU 

SEZA BUAN MoU

The Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) and Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will guide their future collaboration in skills development and boost production in the agriculture sector.

According to the two organisations, the MoU will enable development of aligned vocational and technical skills for investors in the Special Economic Zones (SEZ); promote research and innovation and facilitate sharing of value adding information to support both institutions’ common objectives.

When speaking at the signing ceremony, SEZA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lonely Mogara said the two institutions realised the need to establish a value adding and comprehensive partnership as far back as July 2020.

“Today’s ceremony also marks the beginning of a more structured relationship through which we will share mutual knowledge and develop each other’s skills,” Mogara revealed. 

He further added that the MoU will open a great window of opportunity for the establishment and development of economically value adding projects that will create much – needed employment while enabling the economy to grow export value and diversify the export base. 

Through the MoU, SEZA and BUAN are hoping to create business linkages for local companies and develop unique skills needed for agribusiness investment and the knowledge based economy at large.

For his part, the newly appointed BUAN Vice Chancellor Dr David Jasper Gilbert Rees explained that the institution has taken a strategic decision to diversify its mandate from just academics to research and development, with a view to transforming the agriculture and natural resource sectors through provision of competitive, high calibre graduates.

“Our key mandate is agriculture, which is one of SEZA’s targeted sectors for economic development. We have a responsibility to work together to ensure sustainability and significant value addition through agro-processing. I have confidence that we will have made great strides in the end,” he said.

When giving closing remarks, SEZA Director of Investment Facilitation Neo Mahube said the Authority decided to approach BUAN as it was key to the success of the agro-business sector; which government has identified as of strategic importance to economic growth and diversification.

“Agro business has high potential to boost food production and facilitate export substitution, as the country imports almost all its food supplies. According to Statistics Botswana the 2019 import bill for food was P9 billion. 

So you will appreciate the importance of SEZA collaborating with BUAN to facilitate skills development for investors in this sector and identify potential for downstream value addition such as food processing,” she said.

The two institutions have since set up a Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) to undertake quarterly consultations and evaluate progress in the implementation of the MoU.

SEZA has reserved land at its SEZs for agro-production and processing activities. Key amongst this is the Pandamatenga agro processing zone with opportunities for investment in production of cereals, legumes, dairy and horticulture; agro- processing and value addition; water management solutions; irrigation as well as production of pesticides and fertilizers. 

The Lobatse SEZ is a meat and leather city at which key economic activities will include meat and leather processing; retail of finished goods; dairy processing; bio – technology as well as logistics and distribution. 

More agro-production will continue at some of SEZA’s targeted clusters like Mosisedi and the Ghanzi, Boteti and Kgalagadi areas. Mosisedi is a commercial cereal and grain production cluster while Ghanzi, Boteti and Kgalagadi are the hub of Botswana’s beef and small stock production. It is hoped that the MoU with BUAN will boost investment, production and value addition opportunities at some of the SEZs. 

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