Botswana Economy and More
Everything You Need to Know About Botswana
I would like you to understand first the basis of Botswana and its economy before we start into the business. It is important to know first, where you would like to invest. What makes Botswana what it is today.
My Business Advice for Botswana
The Country is made of natural diversities ranging from numerous game reserves, the Central
Kalahari Desert, the green Okavango delta, national parks — to name a few. Since independence in the year 1966, the country has always observed consistent democracy, making it politically stable and a safe place to visit to live and to do business in Botswana.
Where Is Botswana Located?
Botswana is a sub-Saharan country located in southern Africa. Its immediate neighbors include
Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, and Zambia. Botswana is more of flat land, accordingly, only a few areas seem to be hilly. The country’s leading and renowned tourist attractions is the remarkable
Okavango Delta (opens in a new tab) and the Kalahari Desert (opens in a new tab). And so, You will find the Makgadikgadi Pans in the north-central part, which is among the most extensive salt flats globally. The pan marks the only thing that remained after Lake Makgadikgadi dried many years ago.
Map showing Africa with the location of Botswana with the country Flag, just over South Africa.
Botswana is more like a triangle, which means that it is 600 miles from the north to south and 600 miles from the west to east — the eastern side protrudes into a very sharp point. The lowest topographical point in Botswana is situated between Shashe and Limpopo rivers (513m), while the highest elevated point is found at Tsodilo Hill (1,490m). Botswana has various wildlife ranging from mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles — they form a great tourist attraction for the country.
Before Botswana attained its independence, it existed as a British protectorate, Bechuanaland. At that time, it was among the least developed countries and hence very poor. Eventually, after
liberation, the country was named Botswana, originating from its very dominant ethnic group,
the Tswana. The government started to grow gradually after attaining independence. As a result, it is one of the prosperous, democratic countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Botswana is a Commonwealth (opens in a new tab), United Nations (opens in a new tab), Southern African Development Community (opens in a new tab), and
African Union (opens in a new tab) member. Botswana’s capital city is known as Gaborone, which is also the largest
city in the country.
The People of Botswana
As per the statistics of 2019, Botswana has a population of approximately 2.3 million people, making it one of the most sparsely populated nations with only four people in every square kilometer. Botswana population is referred to as Batswana in plural and Motswana in singular regardless of the tribe. The country’s most prominent ethnic tribe is Tswana and accounts for more than 60% of the population.
The second-largest ethnic group is known as Khalagari. Other tribes include the Tswapong, Birwa, Kalanga, Yei, Mbukushu, Mbanderu, Herero, Subiya, and Khoisan. And so, Some of these have their main and close relatives in neighbouring countries, and there are only a few in Botswana. Other people you will find in the country are whites, a few Asians, and mixed ancestry. However, these only accounts for a small portion of the Botswana population.
Botswana’s primary language, which is also a national language, is Tswana, also known as Setswana or Sechuana. The official language in the country is English. The Khoisan speak Khwe or Khoe, and San. Other languages recognized in the country include Sekgalagadi, Kalanga, Mbukushu, Yei, and Herero.
When it comes to religion, most people in the country practise Christianity, with Independent Christian being dominant and few protestants. The main churches in the country are the Methodist and congregational churches. Other denominations include Roman Catholic, Dutch Reformed, and Lutheran.
Some people still believe in their traditional beliefs and remain to be their primary religion. Botswana also has a few Quakers, Muslims, Baha’i, and Hindus, who are mostly expatriates.
Economy in Botswana
A free-market economy characterizes Botswana, and the government is determined to improve infrastructure for both public and private investments. The country’s economy has been growing steadily in the last five decades, and its GDP, as per 2018 statistics, stood at $8,258 per Capita.
The Botswana GDP growth rate (opens in a new tab) in the same year registered a 4.5% annual change.
While some families rear cattle in the rural areas, very few earn money from their sales. Since most households only produce enough crops for their subsistence use, and some do not even get enough for this, which means they do not earn any money selling crops. Therefore, most of these households rely on their family members working in urban areas or abroad for survival.
The Botswana government (opens in a new tab) is trying to help the people earn a better livelihood, but only a few get to enjoy these benefits. Consequently, the revenues made from mining developments have used to improve rural areas’ infrastructure and support schemes that subsidize cattle development and crop production.
Additionally, the trade unions are also trying to penetrate the country’s paid employment sector to improve everyone’s livelihoods. Still, they haven’t been successful in doing it.
Botswana currency is known as Botswana Pula (BWP), which is introduced in the year 1976.
The currency issued by the Bank of Botswana (opens in a new tab), the central bank, which engages a variety of businesses including bond markets, and others.
Read my articel on How to start a business in Botswana.
Numerous sectors are contributing to the Botswana economy, and they include:
Agriculture is not the main income-generating activity for many Batswana since the available arable land is not adequate for productive cultivation. Therefore the sector only accounts for about 10% of the GDP, and a significant portion of it is from livestock production. Botswana imports most of its foodstuff from Zimbabwe and South Africa. The only thriving agricultural activity in the country is cattle rearing, which maybe because of the sufficient availability of pastures and water. The government has also helped by investing in disease prevention, providing support services for farmers, and availing modern slaughterhouses. The countries the main export market for beef is the European Union (opens in a new tab).
Moreover, Botswana is lucky to have some natural resources such as diamonds, nickel, coal, copper, salt, and soda ash. Diamonds are the main minerals and have contributed significantly to the growth of the economy. Botswana has a national electric power grid that serves the eastern town and mines and is situated in Murupule.
Manufacturing is not a primary economic activity in Botswana. Its development is usually limited by the high water and power costs, lack of skilled labour, and insufficient domestic market. The only sectors that are still thriving include the diamond industry (being the major), meat processing, and textile production.
Most domestic trade patterns in Botswana are owned by foreigners operating both wholesale and retail businesses. However, recently there is an increase in small stores and entities owned by citizens. Botswana is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) (opens in a new tab), allowing them to trade freely with other members such as Lesotho, South Africa, Namibia, and Swaziland. Most of Botswana’s exports go to southern African nations and Europe.
So far, Tourism is also a major sector in the country, attracting tourists interested in wetland areas and thirst-land environments. The main tourist attractions include the national parks, Okavango Delta, game reserves, and the Kalahari Desert, among others.
Government and Legal Frameworks
Botswana is a multiparty nation and is headed by a president. The president gets indirectly
elected to serve for a five-year term and can only rule for ten years (2 terms in office). Every
citizen who has reached the age of 18 years is allowed to vote, and women are also allowed to
vie for any seat in the government. Besides, most women lack the resources they need to
fund their political campaigns, and this has continuously led to a decreased number of women in the Botswana parliament.
Botswana’s judicial system (opens in a new tab) has three courts, namely the High Court, Court of Appeal, and some Magistrates Courts. Botswana holds free elections every five years. And since it maintains uncorrupt bureaucracies and unwavering respect for the rule of law and human rights, we can say that it is politically stable.
While the government hasn’t achieved adequate results yet, it is determined to always distribute resources both equally and widely in the country
Health and Education
Until now, some of the fatal diseases in Botswana include pneumonia, tuberculosis, diarrhoea, and digestive illnesses. But due to the country’s warm and dry climate, Botswana does not suffer a lot from diseases such as malaria, sleeping sicknesses, and bilharzia. HIV/AIDs cases were rising in Botswana, which led to an increased number of AIDS orphans in the country. Since the government acted upon the spread, and by the year 2002, the country was the first in Africa to offer its citizens free HIV antiretroviral drugs. Other lifestyle, age, and diet-related illnesses are also rampant, including stroke, high blood pressure, dental issues, and heart diseases.
Botswana has numerous health posts in every village with over 500 people and clinics in every town with over 4000 people. These were consequently developed in the year 1973 to provide primary health care services and facilities. They also have two national referral hospitals located in Francistown and Gaborone. As a result of the growth in urban development, there are numerous private clinics and health centers. Previously, health services were free in public facilities, but today, citizens are required to pay a nominal fee to access them.
But most children in Botswana get access to primary school education. Still, those who come from low-income families are not lucky to enrol. The University of Botswana in Gaborone and vocational skills taught by international interests have made the situation better. However, still, more than 80% of people in Botswana are considered illiterate. The rate is higher in rural areas.
Economy Botswana in a nutshell
And generally can be considered as a safe and stable nation politically. Despite the poverty levels and the illiteracy rate being high, the country’s economy is growing gradually, which means a better future for everyone is possible. Maybe a few changes in overall policies might help, but Botswana business opportunities are there.