• My Co-Host, Your Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia;
• Your Excellency Mr. Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chairperson of the African Union and the Guest of Honour;
• Your Excellency Filipe Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique; and Chairman of SADC
• Your Excellency Dr. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe;
• Your Excellency, Senator Themba Masuku, Acting Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Eswatini;
• Your Excellency Dr. Nangolo Mbumba, Vice President of the Republic of Namibia;
• Honourable Ministers here present;
• Your Excellency Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, SADC Executive Secretary;
• Secretary General of COMESA.
• Honourable Councillors here present;
• Senior Government Officials;
• Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
A very good morning to you all!
1. Today is a truly momentous occasion in the history of the Republics of Botswana and Zambia. It is the day on which we celebrate the fruition of our close bilateral relations which have resulted in this magnificent infrastructural project. It is a great pleasure to be with you my dear friend, dear brother, hardworking, wonderful and cooperative neighbor, Your Excellency President Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, as we officially open the Kazungula Bridge at the quadro point where four countries uniquely meet.
2. I wish to recognise and appreciate the presence of Your Excellency President Mr. Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chairperson of the African Union and the Guest of Honour at this auspicious occasion.
3. I also wish to thank Your Excellency Mr. Filipe Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique and Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community, Your Excellency my very good neighbor, and elder brother Dr. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Your Excellency Senator Themba Masuku, Acting Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Eswatini, Your Excellency Dr. Nangolo Mbumba, Vice President of the Republic of Namibia, High Level Officials representing Heads of State and Government as well as Heads of Regional Economic Communities for being here with us today to witness this momentous occasion, a wonderful rarity in history.
4. Your presence means a lot to me and the people of the Republic of Botswana. And, I want to thank all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for your continued support to our development efforts.
5. Botswana attaches great importance to the friendly relations that happily exist between our two sisterly countries. My country regards Zambia as a key strategic partner in development. This Bridge, this bridge is therefore testimony to the ever-growing scope and scale of cooperation, which our two countries have enjoyed since the colonial era.
6. Very close to the place where we are, for those of you who do not know, used to be one of the only, very few rare safe gateway places for refugees because at independence Botswana was surrounded by white, draconian, minority hostile, arrogant, colonial regimes, and small border, this riverine border between Botswana and Zambia provided a safe conduit of passage, despite the presence of crocodiles, hippos, snakes and other dangerous animals presented greater reliability safe passage for those seeking to liberate their own countries. Is’nt it proud that Vice President Mumba who camped in Kazungula Botswana before he came to kazungula Zambia was one of those in the sixties. He was visited by Former President Pohamba and many other liberation icons. Hence the reason which we advance, with a lot of conviction that we in Botswana must be recognised as belonging to the unique club of former liberation movements, the only difference being, we did not bear arms, but our willingness and humility to support. In this context, the region will always be indebted to the people of Zambia and their Government. Therefore, this bridge where it stands is of historical significance to the liberation of the whole Southern Africa.
7. Ladies and Gentlemen, the signing of the 2012 Agreement, between our two nations, to construct the Kazungula Bridge, presented a unique opportunity for us to build this iconic, eye-catching and marvelous piece of engineering. And, I am delighted to note that the two countries have signed the necessary legal instruments to operationalize Kazungula Bridge. I am happy to note that the Republic of Zimbabwe has agreed in principle to be a partner in this project and our officials are still working on the legal framework for such an arrangement and will continue to work increasingly faster for Zimbabwe to be part of this bridge and eventually enroll Namibia .
8. Botswana has always been of the view that the Kazungula Bridge will open avenues for improved trade, job creation and economic diversification in our countries. By and large, that it will significantly accelerate SADC’s regional integration agenda which we are vigorously pursuing. I believe that with the support of our regional body and its Member States, Kazungula Bridge will serve the purpose for which it was constructed.
9. There is no doubt that the completion of this Bridge has raised the expectations of our people. It goes without saying that goods from Lesotho, Eswatini, South Africa and Namibia as well as goods from Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Angola, Kenya and all countries in the North of us will use the Bridge in the true spirit of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
10. Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, by growing our strategic partnerships through this project, we have improved the development and competitiveness of our economies to attract more private sector investment, thereby, supporting our efforts to create employment, especially for the burgeoining youth.
11. I was recently appointed Generation Unlimited Leader and its Champion for Southern Africa. The global initiative is a multi-sectoral partnership created to expand education, skills development and employment opportunities for young people and to capacitate them as innovators of the future to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution on our continent. This Bridge will provide business opportunities particularly facilitated through Information Communication Technology by the young people, for the young people and with the young people throughout Southern Africa and beyond.
12. I am therefore presented with an inimitable opportunity to work in collaboration with my dear colleagues in Africa and the globe, to genuinely and meaningfully empower our youthful population to drive the development of our countries through science and technology and make our world a better place to live in.
13. Allow me to also inform that Botswana will host the first Forbes Under 30 Summit in Africa, which is scheduled to be held in Gaborone and Kasane, right in your neighborhood a stone throw away, from 26th to 30th September 2021. The Summit will attract more than six hundred (600) young people from Botswana, Africa and the rest of the world. This will create a conducive environment for young entrepreneurs to share their business ideas with the global business community and investors.
14. Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, as some of you may know, the Bridge comprises a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River, directly linking Botswana and Zambia. It has One-Stop-Border Post facilities on both sides, which will enhance the operational efficiency at entry points, replicated on both sides of the boarder.
15. The bridge was originally conceived as a critical link in the African North-South Corridor under the African Union’s New Partnership (NEPAD) for Africa’s Development programme. It has since evolved to encompass a multimodal transport plan under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).
16. The PIDA programme, which encompasses liberalisation of air travel, rail links, road, water and all other modes of transport has only one objective: to unite the states of Africa in order to foster trade on the continent.
17. Connectivity of our nations will in no small measure, promote people to people interactions and uplift their standards of living. I am pleased to state that the completion of this Project is a clear demonstration of our commitment to PIDA.
18. At this juncture, allow me to acknowledge and applaud the sterling work done by the Joint Steering Committee, chaired by the Heads of the Executing Agencies of Botswana and Zambia, and the Kazungula Bridge Project Office. They have delivered a truly iconic and magnificent masterpiece fit for global celebrities to come and enjoy.
19. In the same vein, I would like to take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude to our development partners, in particular, the Japan International Development Agency which funded the project on the Botswana side.
20. I further recognise the tremendous work achieved by our own citizen professionals, including the Consultants, Engineers, Environmentalists and other key contributors to the design, supervision and construction of this product. I particularly want to recognize the participation of our local consultant companies, such as, Bothakga Burrow Botswana and CPP Botswana for your professional execution of the project.
21. To the international contractors who participated in the construction of the Bridge, particularly Daewoo Engineering and Construction, Zhong Gan Engineering Construction and Anhui Foreign Economic Construction. I want to express my sincere appreciation for your expertise which contributed to the meticulous and timely delivery of the project.
22. Let me close my remarks by reiterating that, only with mutual goodwill and friendship between our two countries and the support of our regional and continental bodies, can the project achieve what we envisioned when it was first conceptualised. We remain positive that this project will be a model and a benchmark on the continent and the world at large.
23. Again PRESIDENT lungu thank you
President Mnangagwa thank you.
The people of Zambia thank you.
I thank you