As at 2019, Japan had disbursed approximately P3.5 billion to Botswana to aid development of the country. This was disclosed at a ceremony commemorating 55 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The first major cooperation between the two countries was in 1986 when Japan provided a loan expanding the capacity of Morupule A Power Station. In 1992, the first Japan Oversees Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) were dispatched to Botswana. The Embassy of Japan introduced the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) to Botswana in 1997.
The East Asian country has been a valuable partner for Botswana since Independence in 1966, assisting in its long-term infrastructure development through five loan projects amounting to JPY22 billion (P2.2 billion approx) for development of infrastructure as a key to industrialisation and diversification of the economy.
“Japan not only provides concessional loans but is also concerned about debt sustainability of developing countries as a responsible member of international community. Out of JPY22 billion extended to Botswana, JPY3.7 billion was cancelled by the Government of Japan in 2004 as a debt relief measure. Again, the embassy revealed that JPY2.1 billion was cancelled in 2008.
Japan’s first grant to Botswana was in 1981 when the Ministry of Education was supplied with laboratory equipment for schools. In 2010, Japan provided JPY1.11 billion (P110 million approx) in an environmental programme grant aid for implementation of the Project for Introduction of Clean Energy by Solar Electricity Generation System. In 2013, JPY43 million was provided for “the Project for the Improvement of TV Programmes of Botswana Television” to improve Btv’s educational and documentary programmes.
More recently, three grant aid projects under the Economic Social Development Programme have been implemented since 2020. They were made possible under exceptional and emergent circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The projects are provision of 15,000 Set Top Boxes (STB) for vulnerable communities (JPY150 million, P15 million approx), procurement of medical equipment to fight against COVID-19 (JPY300 million, P30 million approx), and procurement of agriculture equipment to enhance Botswana’s food security (JPY500 million, 50 million approx).
The establishment of diplomatic ties between Botswana and Japan dates back to 1966. The Embassy of Botswana in Tokyo, Japan was opened in 1997 while the Embassy of Japan in Botswana was established in 2008.