The project is funded by two Chinese companies, Daheng Holdings Group and Touch International Holdings Group, for US$52 million. The Phakalane Industrial Park will be the first phase of the project, which will major in textiles and clothing products. The Daheng Group anticipates that 66 companies from all over the world will build factories in the park, creating 8,000 jobs.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, the Managing Director of Touch International, He Liehui, related how the China-Botswana Economic and Trade Cooperation Area (CBETCA) was founded. Liehui said the project was conceived in November 2006 during the China-Africa Summit in Beijing when former president, Festus Mogae, encouraged the two companies to come to Botswana to build an industrial park. The project is expected to generate US$280 million in foreign revenue. Liehui acknowledged the "great support" from government for the project.
"The Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA), the Ministry of Lands and Housing, the Chinese Embassy in Botswana and the Botswana Embassy in China have made great efforts to assist us to carry out this project," he said.
He said his company started to invest in the country in 1998. Liehui also expressed gratitude to their Batswana employees. In a bid to pay back to the Botswana society, his company has decided to set up the Daheng International Charity Foundation.Liehui said although the world is experiencing an economic downturn, the two companies will continue to invest in the country. "Although we face some difficulties, we are still working hard to attract powerful and good credit companies from China as well as other countries to establish their factories in CBETCA," he said, adding that advanced technology and administration will be introduced in Botswana.Speaking at the same ceremony, the Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Duke Lefhoko, said the project constitutes some tangible results of the government's efforts of attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
He said the government continues to create a conducive environment to attract FDI and that the government is working relentlessly to make starting a business in the country easier and simpler. Lefhoko said BEDIA is always ready to assist investors to register their companies in less than a week and get licences within five working days.
During the ceremony, the Daheng Group also launched its charity foundation. Lefhoko expressed gratitude to the Daheng Group, saying the foundation will assist the disadvantaged live a more dignified life.
"I am informed that this foundation plans to donate a total of P10 million (in cash and in kind) in the next 10 years," he said.
"This will go a long way in enhancing the efforts of other charity foundations which already exist in the country. "I therefore wish to take this opportunity to encourage other companies to emulate the Daheng Group and fulfil their corporate social responsibility. Assistance of this nature can never be enough." The Daheng Group has donated an initial P500,000 to the foundation.
The Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Ponatshego Kedikilwe spoke of the need to transfer skills and opportunities to Batswana. He took the opportunity to talk about some of the major projects the government is undertaking. Among them are the expansion of the Morupule Colliery and the Mmamabale power project. Kedikilwe also spoke about developments in the health sector, saying government believes that there is need to install private specialists in public hospitals.A major agricultural project is the tapping of water from the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers for irrigation at Pandamatenga.
Kedikilwe also gave a brief account of Botswana's second university, which is being built in Palapye. Regarding his ministry, he said there is a possibility of striking uranium in Serule.
The last event was the signing ceremony for a twinning arrangement between Zhejiang Province and the Gaborone City Council. Lefhoko said such arrangements are encouraged as they assist the local authorities to benchmark best practices with their counterparts around the world.