France and Botswana
Our confident, friendly bilateral relationship is built on democratic principles and shared values. It was boosted by the opening of an Embassy in Gaborone in July 2000, when the headquarters of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was established there. The head of the French diplomatic mission is also France’s Special Representative to the SADC.
The official visit to France on 20 and 21 March 2008 of President Mogae, and that of President Khama in June 2015, helped deepen our political relationship. The Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Ms Ségolène Royal, also visited Botswana in August 2015 as part of the preparation of COP21.
Our defence and security cooperation essentially involves training: training of Botswana’s armed forces by the French Army Forces in the Southern Indian Ocean Zone (FAZSOI), receiving classes of cadets for battle readiness courses in La Réunion, regional police training for SADC countries organized by France and hosted by Botswana, and French classes for military and police personnel.
Bilateral trade relations between France and Botswana are limited and do not appear consistent with the potential of a country with a GDP of $16 billion. French exports (less than €6 million in 2014, less than €9 million in 2013) consist mainly of pharmaceuticals and professional equipment. Most imports are of small value (less than €200,000 in 2013 and 2014) and involve miscellaneous manufactured products. It is likely that the real level of trade is considerably underestimated, as part of the trade between France and Botswana transits through other countries (e.g. South Africa, Belgium or Israel for diamonds).$
Export data vary greatly with the conclusion of major contracts (such as in the aviation sector).
Foreign direct investment flows between France and Botswana are also modest (French FDI stock in Botswana of €8.7 million in 2013). Some 20 French businesses are present in Botswana.
Given the inadequacy of its banking legislation according to OECD criteria, Botswana was added in 2012 to the French list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions. A reform of banking secrecy law is ongoing in Botswana, which could help put an end to this situation.
Bilateral cultural cooperation has recently seen a significant development with Botswana’s decision to generalize the teaching of French at State secondary schools by 2016.
A framework agreement was signed in March 2008 during the official visit to France of President Mogae, in order to set out the terms of French assistance, including as regards teacher training. The government devotes substantial resources to the teaching of French, invested in programmes implemented with the support of the French cooperation funds and the expertise of the International Centre for Educational Studies (CIEP)’s local centre in La Réunion.
In this favourable context, the Alliance française branch in Gaborone is naturally a major asset for the development of the use of French and the promotion of French culture. The Embassy’s cooperation budget (€63,345 in 2016) is also largely devoted to training Botswana officials in French. The new framework agreement on education, signed on 23 June 2015 during the visit to France of the President of the Republic of Botswana, scales up our cooperation in teaching French.
In parallel to the linguistic and cultural sector, which is central to our cooperation, bilateral cooperation is also growing in the academic, scientific and technical sectors. Several French universities have developed exchanges with the University of Botswana, in various disciplines (public health, geosciences, political and administrative sciences, tourism).
Updated: 24 February 2016