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By : Keikantse Lesemela

14 May 2012

Signed last week, the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) will see the introduction of three weekly flights between Sir Seretse Khama International Airport and Plaisance Airport in the Mauritian capital, Port Louis. The agreement specifies Air Mauritius and Air Botswana as the airlines to exploit the arrangement. Once the airlines introduce the flights, tourists will conceivably be able to view the Okavango Delta in the morning and watch the sunset on Mauritius’ world-renowned beaches.

Besides tourism however, the BASA is expected to boost trade between the two countries, which traditionally lead Africa in terms of economic performance. Transport and Communications minister, Nonofo Molefhi said the flights would also cater for passengers connecting to the European and Asian markets.

“The agreement between Botswana and Mauritius embraces the market liberalisation principles and will enhance connectivity and stimulate trade and tourism between Botswana and Mauritius,” he said. “The signing of the BASA will create capacity demand (and also) allow greater market access to support growth and competition in the air transport sector.

“I hope BASA will substantially increase air traffic movements from key targeted markets in the world which include key airport hub points that transit a large volume of passengers and goods.” For his part, the Mauritian High Commissioner to Botswana, Mahomed Dossa said the agreement was a logical step in the strengthening of relations between two countries. “The signing of this agreement will further contribute to the enhancement of trade and tourism between our two countries,” said Dossa. “We earnestly wish to see immediate implementation of the provisions of the agreement for the immediate mutual benefit of our countries.”

Besides trade and tourism, Botswana and Mauritius have also cooperated in health and transport. Last year, the two countries set up the Mauritius/Botswana Business Council and also signed a Cooperation Framework Agreement to look into potential areas of mutual interest in trade, investment and economy.