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Thursday 15 November 2018
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Botswana: Africa’s Fastest Growing Economy

Botswana: Africa’s Fastest Growing Economy

 

When it comes to opposition politics and activism in Africa, no matter which country you go to, and no matter the person you meet i.e. young or old, male or female; when you ask the reason why that person is an opposition political official/supporter or activist, there is just one reason that pops up more often than not and that is, ‘change’.

The cry for change is not new or peculiar only to modern-day opposition politics and/or activism, it has been there since the early 1900s, resonating well with the challenges and prospects of those times.

However, even though research and studies done by many Afro-centric academics suggest that the change advocated for by our ‘fathers’ in days gone by has indeed come to pass, it seems to the ordinary African that the change, academics talk about is only present in their writings. This is because many ordinary Africans to this day are still fighting for the same cause that their ‘fathers’ fought for i.e. economic freedom and prosperity.

For the privileged ordinary African who has managed to travel to faraway lands in the East or who has been fortunate enough to come across writings on the history of certain Eastern nations namely United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Singapore among others, there will know that at the start of the 1990s, those countries were near deserts with only a handful of buildings dotted around. However fast forward 20 to 30 years later, those near desert countries are now ranking as the world’s most beautiful and economically powerful countries. A magnificent turnaround to say the least.

The growth and expansion of several Eastern countries such as the UAE have left the ordinary African with more questions than answers. How come the change seen in these Eastern countries is not only academic but practical? This is to say, it’s not change that is projected in studies only but its change that the ordinary man or woman can see. How and why has Africa’s change failed to transcend from academic change to practical change? These are all questions that baffle the ordinary man.

While trying to address the questions of the ordinary African, academics including African academics cite that the successful countries of the East have done so thanks to the huge oil deposits in their countries. This, however, does not answer the questions of the ordinary man as some of the African countries also have huge oil deposits but find themselves ranked as the world’s least developed countries. Perhaps its mismanagement and corruption? But we have deposed regime after regime, why are the corruption and mismanagement refusing to go.

While the quest to find the answers to the above questions is still going on, one African country is pushing to emulate the ‘Asian Tigers’. In the process, it is also presenting more challenges to academics as it is fast developing even though it is not endowed with the precious commodity, oil.

Botswana’s economy is projected to grow significantly in 2018. According to economic experts, Botswana in conjunction with Mauritius is expected to become Africa’s first developed countries if they maintain their growth rates. To Botswana, this shouldn’t be much of a problem as it managed to maintain an annual 6.3 percent growth rate from 1970 to 2010.

While the oil question is absent as a contributory factor behind Botswana’s recent success, there are a number of factors forwarded in explaining the remarkable economic growth of the country. The first one refers to the declining fertility rates (2.46 percent in 2012 and 1.48 percent thereafter). The learner population of about 2 million makes it possible for most citizens to get a larger slice of the national cake.

According to the latest Corruption Perception Index released by the Transparency International, Botswana is ranked as the least corrupt country in Africa. This presumably means Botswana has sound economic management, another factor that may be working in favour of the country.

Though it doesn’t have oil deposits, Botswana is endowed with other natural resources notably diamonds. Botswana processes its diamonds and sells them on the international market as polished diamonds. This works in the country’s favour as it receives more money from diamonds than if it was selling unprocessed diamonds.

The country has also attracted huge investments. Global companies that invest in Botswana play a huge role in employing the vast majority of the working population and ensuring that the country’s people have a decent standard of living.

If Botswana can carry on the same trend it is on now, then there is no reason to doubt that it will become one of Africa’s first developed country.