Botswana’s honorary consul to Nigeria based in Lagos, Ade Adefeko, has hailed Botswana’s economic success, saying it is “a small country doing big things”.
Adefeko, who was appointed honorary consul by the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Dr. Lemogang Kwape in January 2021, recently visited Botswana for the first time and was impressed by strides made by the country in economic growth.
In an interview with The Business Weekly & Review at iTowers in the Gaborone CBD after his return from a whirlwind tour of the city, Adefeko was full of praise for the Founder and President of Boitekanelo College, Dr. Thabo Mampane, whose school he had covered on the tour. He described Boitekanelo College as a vital bit in the development of Botswana’s health sector. “This country nurtures talent,” he said. “You have a young population that is knowledgeable in technology.”
He is currently the Chairman of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) Agricultural Trade Group, and the Vice-Chairman of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Group (MANEG). Additionally, he is a member of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry – LCCI Export Group.
Adefeko’s key role is to promote Botswana’s business interests in Nigeria and vice versa. To that end, when asked about ways in which Botswana could diversify its revenue streams, he answered that much of it would rely on whether Nigerians are keen to set up business ventures in Botswana. “I think Batswana need to first come to Nigeria to experience who we are,” he said.
Another advice he gave was for Botswana to ease visa processing, saying the formalities are currently cumbersome and can scare potential investors off. Adefeko noted this to many other countries that must also relax travel restrictions between Africans in order to enhance prospects of economic prosperity. “If you have free entry of people, you (also) have easy movement of goods,” he pointed out.
As leading exporters of diamonds and oil respectively, it is in the interests of Botswana and Nigeria to leverage on the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement and call for an African Union (AU) passport in order to ease movement of the continent’s 1.3 billion people for networking and collaborations, he said. “If people don’t move freely around the continent, how can you expect free movement of goods?,” he posed a rhetoric.
Adefeko noted that there are still many sectors in Botswana that need to develop if the country should diversify its income streams, and pointed to the media and the creative sector as examples. Botswana could build more TV stations because Nigerians would be ready to share skills in this regard. The trade diplomat noted that this is because Nollywood, as the Nigerian film industry called, is ranked second largest in the world after America’s Hollywood that provides millions of direct job and contributes USD7.2 billion, representing 1.42 percent of the GDP of Africa’s most populous country. “We have to do collaborations so as to sell the African story,” he added and reminisced about the time when South Africa’s kwaito music was big and blazed the airwaves and DSTV sets. Adefeko said he drew inspiration from Botswana’s democracy and political stability, noting that this is something that many countries should learn from. “Botswana is a small country doing big things,” he asserted.
Adefeko, who has travelled to more than 50 countries, obtained his degree specialising in foreign languages in 1990 and has experience in several professions spanning over 30 years. He has worked in different sectors such as the Health, Agric, trade, communications, banking and investment to mention but a few. Ade speaks 10 languages and part of his decorated CV includes serving as Public Affairs Director at Multichoice, he is now the Vice-president of Corporate and Government Relations at Olam Nigeria- a multinational specialising in Agri-business.