A University of Botswana Mandarin Chinese language instructor, Mr Gracious Tshepiso Masule, recently had a rare privilege of travelling with a Botswana delegation to Beijing, China to provide on-site interpreting.
Mr Masule from the Chinese Studies Programme participated in the China-Botswana Business Forum in Beijing, at the invitation of Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC). President Mokgweetsi Masisi led Botswana’s delegation to the forum.
Mr Masule whose key role was to ensure smooth communication between members of the Botswana trade mission and their Chinese interlocutors at the forum even interpreted during President Masisi’s meeting with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) chairman. CCPIT partnered with BITC to organise the Forum.
The aim of the Business Forum was to explore investment and trade opportunities and to facilitate joint-ventures and partnerships between Botswana and China.
Botswana’s delegation comprising government officials and business people represented a range of key sectors in the country’s economy from agriculture, agro-processing, energy and power, infrastructure and construction, finance and business services to manufacturing, mining beneficiation and tourism.
Accordingly, Mr Masule assisted with all activities that formed part of the forum from welcome speeches to individual business meetings and company site visits.
The Business Forum was organised back-to-back with the Summit of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that gathered leaders from 53 African countries, including Botswana. The success of the Business Forum together with the positive outcome of the FOCAC Summit raise hope of seeing more companies, investors and tourists from China finding their way to Botswana.
Already many Batswana are learning Mandarin Chinese through the Chinese Studies Programme and at the UB Confucius Institute. The Confucius Institute offers part-time evening classes in Mandarin to the general public while the Chinese Studies Programme offers a full-time four-year undergraduate degree programme.
The programme combines the study of Mandarin Chinese with various aspects of Chinese culture, history, economy and foreign policy. The Chinese studies courses are also taken as electives by students from other fields in the University such as business, sciences, statistics, medicine and engineering, who have taken note of China’s growing presence in Africa and wish to be part of this unfolding story.
Botswana-China relations are set to continue to grow and so is the need for Batswana with a solid understanding of China and the Chinese language. As the main anchor point for the study of China in Botswana, UB stands ready to meet that need through its Chinese Studies Programme and Confucius Institute.