The outgoing EU ambassador to Botswana has commended Botswana for her outstanding perfomance on the international stage in the realm of human rights, the upholding of democracy, and maintaining a stable economy.
Speaking at a farewell event in Gaborone recently, McGovern said during his tenure, he has supervised the implementation of development cooperation programmes in Botswana worth more than P1.5 billion, mostly dedicated to the education sector as well as to health and the public sector.
He said Botswana maintained the good record she is known for globally during his tenure in the country.
During his tenure in Gaborone since February 2011, McGovern in coordination with EU Member States present in the country (France, Germany and the UK), represented the EU in Botswana as well as vis-à-vis the Southern African Development Community (SADC). In this capacity, he has supervised the implementation of development cooperation programmes in Botswana worth more than 1.5 billion Pula, mostly dedicated to the education sector as well as to health and public sector reform. In addition, support to local NGOs and small and medium businesses has been significant. A similar amount has been devoted to assist SADC Secretariat move forward the region's integration project. A new programme for Botswana for the period 2014-2020 worth some 400 million Pula was also approved during his tenure and a package worth one billion Pula for regional initiatives in SADC is at an advanced stage of approval. '' The creation of a larger regional market is vital for the long-term success of landlocked, small population Botswana'' stated the Ambassador at a recent exit meeting with Government.
In July 2014, the European Union and the SADC EPA configuration initialed the Economic Partnership Agreement that creates a Free Trade Area (FTA) between the two blocs. This will allow Botswana to continue exporting its beef and other produce to the EU market quota-free and duty-free. Following the initialing of the agreement, at the press conference hosted by the Botswana Ministry of Trade and Industry, chair of the SADC group, McGovern stated that ''the new trade regime will enhance the development prospects of the SADC region and lay the foundation for an economic partnership that is lasting and mutually beneficial''.
According to Mc Govern as the chair of the SADC EPA group, Botswana played a critical role in the process and facilitated the successful execution of the agreement between other SADC member states and EU. “I take this opportunity to congratulate Botswana as chair of the SADC EPA group for its patience, its careful handling of the negotiations in the final stages and its steadfast commitment to free trade” he said. Saying the partnership agreements will enhance the development prospects of the SADC region and lay the foundation for an economic partnership that is lasting and mutually beneficial.
McGovern, who was previously Deputy Head of Mission at the EU Delegation to South Africa, has had a long career in the service of the European Union institutions having also served in South East Asia and the Caribbean. He has also held various management posts in EU headquarters in Brussels in the Development Directorate General.
McGovern's successor, Ambassador Alex Baum, currently Head of the European Union Delegation to Malawi will take up his post in September.