Botswana prioritises one-stop border post

By Confidente Reporter

THE realisation of a One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) between Botswana and Namibia is one of the top priorities of incoming Botswana High Commissioner to Namibia, Dr Batlang Comma Serema, Confidente can reveal.

Serema has also placed high on his diplomatic agenda the plan mooted by the Heads of State of the two neighbouring countries last year to consider allowing their citizens to use identification cards, instead of passports, when travelling between the two countries. The use of IDs instead of passports would complement the existing agreements facilitating free movement of people.

These are some of the key interventions that the new Botswana High Commissioner to Namibia believes will elevate the status of the two neighbours’ bilateral relations by bringing the two countries even closer, once finalised.

“I am here to ensure that all the outstanding projects are accomplished or at least advanced, as some are long-term to guarantee continuity of the relations. Our bilateral relations have grown from strength to strength and we are even closer now and even at social levels, nationals of the two countries enjoy inter-marriages,” Serema said.

The idea of creating a One-Stop Border Post between Botswana and Namibia at Mamuno/Trans Kalahari Border Post, was first mooted in 2013, and negotiations are at an advanced stage to conclude the bilateral agreement. It is envisaged that the introduction of an OSBP at Mamuno would simplify export and import operational procedures. 

The strong bilateral relations between the two countries continue to  grow and flourish because of existing mechanisms such as the Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation (JPCC), which is a platform for discussing the state of bilateral cooperation between the two countries, Namibia and Botswana have undertaken to regularly assess progress in the implementation of agreed commitments to advance relations.

“Currently, the two countries are considering elevating this mechanism to a Bi-National Commission which is at a Presidential level. Other mechanisms include the Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security (JPCDS) which is a platform for discussing issues of mutual interest in the fields of Defence and Security; Memoranda of Agreements or Understanding in various fields; as well as Twinning Arrangements where local authorities partner to promote people to people interaction through cultural exchanges and local economic development activities,” Serema said.

Serema, who comes from an academic background having served as a senior lecturer at the University of Botswana, has also undertaken to deepen the cooperation between the two countries in academia.

“The two countries have cooperated in education sector, particularly in the recruitment of Setswana teachers from Botswana to teach Setswana in Omaheke Region, and Vocational and Technical Training, to facilitate exchanges by our universities. The number of students choosing to study abroad is increasing and, for this reason, it is only logical that universities in both Namibia and Botswana would want to increase internationalisation and attract students and lecturers from across the border. However, there are other fields which the two countries may consider collaborating on, such as Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Research and Development,” the High Commissioner said.