Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name at independence in 1966. More than four decades of uninterrupted civilian leadership, progressive social policies, and significant capital investment have created one of the most stable economies in Africa. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party has won every election since independence; President Ian KHAMA was reelected for a second term in 2014. Mineral extraction, principally diamond mining, dominates economic activity, though tourism is a growing sector due to the country's conservation practices and extensive nature preserves. Botswana has one of the world's highest known rates of HIV/AIDS infection, but also one of Africa's most progressive and comprehensive programs for dealing with the disease.
Southern Africa, north of South Africa
diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver
Population - distribution
the population is primarily concentrated in the east with a focus in and around the captial of Gaborone, and the far central-eastern city of Francistown; population density remains low in other areas in the country, especially in the Kalahari to the west
Setswana 77.3%, Sekalanga 7.4%, Shekgalagadi 3.4%, English (official) 2.8%, Zezuru/Shona 2%, Sesarwa 1.7%, Sembukushu 1.6%, Ndebele 1%, other 2.8% (2011 est.)
GABORONE (capital) 247,000 (2014)
- Conventional long form
- Republic of Botswana
- Conventional short form
- Local long form
- Republic of Botswana
- Local short form
- Geographic coordinates
- 24 38 S, 25 54 E
- Time difference
- UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Until the global recession, Botswana maintained one of the world's highest economic growth rates since independence in 1966. Diamond mining fueled much of the economic expansion and currently accounts for one-quarter of GDP, approximately 85% of export earnings, and about one-third of the government's revenues. Tourism is the secondary earner of foreign exchange and many Batswana engage in subsistence farming and cattle rearing. Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of approximately $16,900 in 2016. Botswana also ranks as one of the best credit risks in Africa.
- External debt stocks
- US$ 2,147,495,000
- Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
- Real Interest Rate
- Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
- Current Account Balance
- US$ 1,120,350,115
- Labor Force, Total
- Employment in Agriculture
- Employment in Industry
- Employment in Services
- Unemployment Rate
- Imports of goods and services
- US$ 7,728,977,100
- Exports of goods and services
- US$ 7,537,819,508
- Total Merchandise Trade
- FDI, net inflows
- US$ 393,471,406
- Commercial Service Exports
- US$ 1,174,162,243
livestock, sorghum, maize, millet, beans, sunflowers, groundnuts
diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore, silver; beef processing; textiles
- diamonds, copper, nickel, soda ash, beef, textiles
- foodstuffs, machinery, electrical goods, transport equipment, textiles, fuel and petroleum products, wood and paper products, metal and metal products
- Country Risk Rating
- A somewhat shaky political and economic outlook and a relatively volatile business environment can affect corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is still acceptable on average.
- Business Climate Rating
- The business environment is acceptable. Corporate financial information is sometimes neither readily available nor sufficiently reliable. Debt collection is not always efficient and the institutional framework has shortcomings. Intercompany transactions may thus run into appreciable difficulties in the acceptable but occasionally unstable environments rated A4.
- Abundant and diverse natural resources (diamonds, copper, uranium, coal)
- Sustainable level of public and external debt
- Political stability and level of governance that place Botswana as the leading country in sub-Saharan Africa
- Dependence on the diamond sector (80% of exports, 30% of budgetary revenues)
- Insufficient infrastructure (production and distribution of water and electricity)
- Poverty, inequality and high unemployment
In 2017, the business is expected to see a slight increase, supported by an expansionary government policy and a gradual recovery in diamond prices. The mining sector, which accounts for one-quarter of GDP, is driven by a moderate increase in demand for diamonds, the country's main export. Production will also increase following the expansion of the Jwangeng mine, the largest in the country. Nevertheless, investment in other mining products (mainly copper and nickel) is expected to be limited by low commodity prices and the bankruptcy of BCL, one of the leading copper and nickel mining companies in late 2016. In addition, the commissioning of the Morupule B power plant, scheduled for 2017, should help to reduce the difficulties of electricity supply, thus promoting industrial production. However, industrial sectors would always suffer from very inadequate water supply infrastructure. The services sector (45% of GDP), notably tourism, is dynamic, supported by the weakness of the currency against the dollar and by the State's expansionist policy. Positive effects of this policy are also expected in the construction sector. The State's fiscal stimulus policy would promote household consumption despite high poverty and unemployment rates (19.3% and 17.8%, respectively). Thus, inflation will rise due to the increase in domestic demand and the moderate recovery in oil prices, while staying in the target area set by the central bank (3 to 6%). The country also has significant foreign exchange reserves (12 months of imports) that would maintain the stability of the currency.
The fiscal deficit is expected to broaden slightly in 2017, as a result of the government's expansionary policy. Indeed, a recovery plan (2017–2023) has been implemented to support the diversification of the economy, specifically by promoting the non-mining sectors. This scheme would result in significant investments in labour-intensive sectors (particularly in tourism), in order to reduce unemployment and poverty. Public investment would also be geared towards infrastructure projects (roads, schools) as well as improving water and electricity supply. The program would be financed by drawing on the country's sovereign wealth fund, so that public debt would remain stable or even decline in 2017. This fund was created in 1994 with the aim of saving a portion of the revenues generated from the mining rent and thus beginning the transition to an economy less dependent on this sector.
The surplus current account is expected to continue to decline in 2017 but would remain positive. Exports of mining products (more than 85% of the total) are expected to suffer from weak external demand and unfavorable price changes, particularly for metals (copper and nickel). However, exports of diamonds (the main exported product) would benefit from an increase in demand for precious stones, especially from Europe. At the same time, the need for capital goods, in the context of diversification of the economy should lead to an increase in imports. Growth in imports would also be fueled by the rise in private consumption and the moderate recovery in oil prices. Nevertheless, the expansion of the services sector, particularly tourism, would limit the deterioration of the current account.
The President of the Republic, Ian Khama, was re-elected for a second term in October 2014, following parliamentary elections that enabled his party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), to win a majority in Parliament (two-thirds of seats) although it received only 47% of the popular vote (its lowest score). This decline in popular support was accentuated by the economic downturn in 2015, as well as the high unemployment rate (17.8% in December 2016), especially given the progress of Collective for Democratic Change (UDC), the main opposition party. The success of the government's stimulus policy is therefore crucial if it wants to win the next legislative elections in 2019. Lack of progress in reducing poverty and unemployment could also create tension.
Botswana is consistently classified among the leading African countries in terms of governance and transparency. The country ranks 71st in the World Bank's latest Doing Business ranking, with a decline in performance in business creation and contract enforcement.