Unemployment still high despite buoyant economy

Ngoni Chiutsi
Monday, 21 August 2017
Statistics Botswana Deputy Statistician General Dr, Burton Mguni Statistics Botswana Deputy Statistician General Dr, Burton Mguni

At 17.7 percent, unemployment rate in an economy considered to be performing well, is still high, says Statistics Botswana Deputy Statistician General, Dr Burton Mguni.

But the reasons are evidently clear - the country’s undiversified economy is anchored by the mining industry, which is not labour intensive. Such economies may do very well where the diamond mining industry is doing well and contributing a lot to the economy.

However, the mining industry is not a great employment creator hence the situation whereby the economy of the country is doing well but there is high unemployment, said Dr Mguni while releasing the results of the Botswana Multi Topic Household Survey 2015/2016 survey.

The purpose of the survey was to provide a comprehensive set of indicators for labour market and poverty. He said that unlike construction and agriculture, the mining industry does not employ many people but contributes more to the economy.

This is due to the fact that mining companies across the globe are focusing on reducing the cost of production to remain viable during this time when commodity prices are depressed. 

The world over, more mining companies are embracing new and more advanced and automated technologies. 

Against this background the way workers are employed is changing resulting in many being made redundant.

Currently jobs in the mining sector are not growing and in Botswana, the total mining workforce ranges between 11 000 and 12 000 over the last 5-10 years. 

Debswana has the highest number of workers averaging 5 000 and the company says it is unlikely that number will increase.

According to Botswana Statistics’ latest survey, the overall unemployment rate for a population aged 15 years and above was at 17.7 percent. In recognition that majority of those aged under 18 years were still pursuing their education and regarded as children, an estimate of unemployment rate for those aged 18 years and above was 17.6 percent.

The data suggests an improvement in the unemployment rates from 19.9 percent in 2011. At the time of the survey, the total population aged 18 years and above was estimated at 1 268 677 of which 838 002 were economically active and 430 675 were economically inactive.

Of the 838 002 economically active population, 690 901 were employed and 147 101 were unemployed.

The survey revealed that the private sector remained the largest employer as it employed 44.6 percent of the labour force, followed by public administration with 22.1 percent, private households with 12.2 percent and subsistence farming with 9.9 percent.

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