The senior ladies football team competing at the ongoing 2019 edition of the COSAFA Championships staged in South Africa made history by reaching the tournament semi -finals this week.
Botswana advanced to the next round of the tournament after holding Zambia to a goalless draw this past Tuesday. Both teams advanced to the knockout stage with Botswana placed as best runner up.
The local ladies have indeed delivered on the assignment at hand, which was that they advance from the group stages this year. For the first time ever, Botswana came close to reaching the semi finals last year but crashed out in the dying minutes of their game against South Africa.
Despite the core of the senior national team being away in Slovakia preparing for the Olympic qualifiers, the promoted senior team has put a splendid show in South Africa. To this end, the team has not conceded but has four goals scored in three matches. The senior team began their campaign on a high note against Namibia, ending the match with a 1-0 score line. The local side went on to humble Mauritius with a 3-0 drubbing and ending the group stages with a goalless draw against Zambia.
The Mares will face off with Zambia once again in the Semi finals while the hosts who are also the tournament defending champions, South Africa, will play Zimbabwe to determine finalists.
It will be interesting to see how the local ladies respond to their first ever semi-final appearance or if they have drawn inspiration from the men team, the Zebras. The Zebras reached the COSAFA finals recently but failed to bring it home, also suffering defeat to Chipolopolo, Zambia. The women final will be played this coming Saturday.
Meanwhile, the under 20 ladies have bowed out of the competition with two losses and one win. The young Mares could only manage a royal exit by beating Eswatini 3-0 on their last game of the group stages. However, it was not enough to save the day as the team was humiliated in their opening games against Zambia and Tanzania.
Located in the North-West District, Botswana lies over 20 000 square kilometer land allocated to 54 commercial farmers who produce sorghum and beans to contribute to food security in the country.
A team of journalists and National Development Bank (NDB), the major financiers of the commercial farmers toured the farms last week. The bank has spent over P500 million financing farmers every year and last year P80 million was spent on Pandamatenga farmers alone. We arrived at 8pm in Panda Rest Camp; the place is amazingly beautiful with 16 Tswana traditional huts and an outdoor conference facility, (Leobo in Setswana), well placed to suit the lifestyle of people in the area. Early morning we started the tour of the farms.
Our first encounter was with the oldest farmer in the area, Mr Ian Cumming, who arrived in Pandamatenga in 1984. He started with bailing grass for the government and after two years he applied for a plot, which he was allocated in 1986. In 1989 he produced 5000 tonnes of sorghum. Currently, he has a 500 hectares plot in which he ploughs sorghum and 505 hectares in which he ploughs beans which are currently exports to China.
Through the assistance of NDB, commercial farmers in Pandamatenga have been able to grow from year to year; producing food to feed the nation, 80 percent of sorghum and beans sold at the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) is produced in the area. However, most farmers complain about the insufficient rainfalls, which have hugely affected their produce this year. Cumming said farming is an exciting yet a highly challenging business, “Farming is my passion and I have been doing it for more than 30 years in Botswana.
I have had a lot of challenges especially with these weather conditions of Botswana but I am so dedicated and committed. I am so passionate about food production. We are able to produce sorghum and beans and supply to BAMB,” he said.
We met another farmer, Hermann Venter, a South African who is also Chairman of Pandamatenga Farmers Association. He was allocated 1000 hectares a farm in 2011.
“I have spent all my life as a farmer in South Africa, it is our family business. My father, my brother and I are farmers. I came to Botswana in 2009 searching for a new environment and I started ploughing here three years ago,” said Venter.
Talking to Botswana Guardian, Venter said it is always a wise decision for the farmers to prepare the field well immediately after harvest without waiting for the next ploughing season.
“After harvest, I remove the crop remains, clear the field and rip the soil to preserve the moisture. Ripping is very important because we never know when the next rainfall will come, but when you have ripped, preserved moisture will reduce the effect of heat on seedlings,” said Venter.
The third farm, Eastfort Holdings made the journalist’s work more interesting and lovely. We found the young gentlemen by the name Adrian in the field, driving the combined harvester machine. With my curiosity, I decided to experience his work and rode the machine with him. It was a 1000-hectare field of sorghum.
The machine makes harvesting easier, less time consuming and not labour intensive as it cuts the grain heads and automatically removes grains from the heads. Adrian told Botswana Guardian that it takes less than two weeks to complete harvesting sorghum from this 1000-hectare field. In 30 minutes it produces 7 tonnes of sorghum. The activity was awesome and one would enjoy doing except for one aspect, the sorghum dust, which was really itchy.
Botswana and China must acknowledge that trade between them is very low despite the fact that in 2018 the trade volume increased 500 times. This was revealed by the Chinese Ambassador Dr Zhao Yanko at the 25th Botswana Northern Trade Fair in Francistown recently where he was the Guest of Honour.
“According to China’s statistics, within the SADC region, China-Botswana trade volume accounts for only 0.31 percent, which is very low and for Africa as a whole, China-Botswana trade volume accounts for only 0.14 percent which is even lower,” explained Dr Yanko.
The way he sees things, trade between the two countries should not only be promoted but its volume must be expanded together with the trade scale. “When we talk about trade we should also look at things from a broader perspective and deeper level. One of the most important things for trade is investment. “Practice has proven that trade and investment complement each other. Trade development can create favourable conditions for investment,” noted the envoy.
According to him, through trade, foreign enterprises can familiarise themselves with local laws and regulations, administrative procedures, market, industries, culture and the people and thus are able to establish a network for localised development and identify areas, products and services with good investment returns. “And these products and services will greatly strengthen the country’s export capability and performance and eventually improve bilateral trade as a result,” lectured Dr Yanko. He also noted that because China’s fast development relies on a path of industrialisation, today, 40 percent of China’s exported goods and two-thirds of China’s exported hi-tech products are manufactured by foreign enterprises based in China.
The Chinese Ambassador said that the Chinese fast development relies on innovation and entrepreneurship of her people. He noted that Botswana has got many areas of strength that attract foreign investors since President Masisi assumed office.“Botswana government has adopted a number of policies with the aim of improving business environment and attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). “Now, Botswana has become more open and welcoming to the whole world,” said the Chinese Ambassador.
The theme of the event was Innovate-Integrate-Industrialise. Giving his welcome remarks earlier, the president of Business Botswana, Gobuamang Keebine, had underscored the importance of the Northern Trade fair indicating that it had become a medium for doing business and promote products and services to a wider range of audience. “Our objective and that of our partners is to create and seize opportunities,” he continued adding that, in Botswana, the private sector’s role has not only been operational in terms of constructive dialogue and engagement.
He said they have been engaged by government in key developmental strategies and policy formation. Praising China for its state of industrialisation, he expressed hope that Botswana and Francistown would learn something from China’s lesson. “For Francistown to position itself as an investment hub, collectively, we must prioritise industrialisation as key to economic growth for Francistown and Botswana,” he advised adding that, for the development of Francistown to become a reality, Business Botswana and the other stakeholders must make sure that citizens participate in the economy.
“Only if we see ourselves as partners in business, if we support each other in our business and if we make a concerted effort as business people to take the lead in our economy and convert it into a private sector led economy and reduce dependence on government,” declared the Business Botswana leader.
Any dialogue on human-wildlife conflict, especially elephants-human conflict cannot bear any positive results if the affected communities who encounter the wrath of these jumbos on a daily basis are not part of decision making. Residents in areas where these animals roam around feel that those who engage in such dialogue without engaging them would just be out on holiday.
If it was according to their will the residents say they could have long poisoned water holes in the area to eliminate elephants. Onkatsitswe Sedimo resides in Lesoma Village about 20KM from Kasane, the tourism area where Kasane Summit 2019 was held early this month.He commutes to Kasane on a daily basis to work. On the night of the interview with this publication he was travelling at sunset to Kasane to do some grocery shopping. Even by the the bus stop Sedimo ensures he is in an area where he could see any of the wildlife from a distance.
They have come to live with the situation but got worried when he sees a group of journalists who seem to be reckless with their surroundings.He explains that life for them is hell. They cannot just travel as they wish at night because that could be the end of someone’s life. Even some children in Lesoma Village travel between 500metres and 1KM to school in a dense forest.
He revealed that due to the increase of elephant population in their area there is competition for space. The elephants, movement would be because of water and other climate change conditions. Sedimo explained that many lose their homes while others fall victim and become disabled after their encounter with elephants, hippos and buffaloes. Even during the day everyone has to be looking over their shoulders as anything can happen.
He is however surprised that right in the middle of Kasane experts and government officials from five countries that make up Kavango Zambezi Transfontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) have gathered to discuss how to deal with the situation that has been tormenting them for years now. He is of the view that what is happening is just talk and no implementation that will benefit the communities.Sankuyo Tshwaragano Trust representative Mischief Puo said the summit cannot talk about the elephants far away from them. He stated that culling or reducing the number of elephants is more practical to deal with elephant management.
He pointed out that communities must be made part of the management strategy for sustainable use of resources.“We need positive incentive packages for the community. Involvement of communities is very minimal. We must make informed decisions, which is why we also need proper statistics. “I support the lifting of the hunting ban. We need sustainable development for the benefit of the elephants and the communities,” he stated.Experts however believe that a compromise can be reached where elephants and humans can co-exist. Tom Milliken pointed out that the animals can be preserved and at the same time have the community benefit.
He is of the view that Asia presents a lucrative market hence elephants have been a target for ivory trading. He said China more especially has been a market for ivory for years. He however said the country should be commended for cracking on notorious syndicates that deal in illegal ivory trade. According to Milliken there are also people from Africa who illegally transport ivory by concealing it in clothes.Member of Parliament for Okavango Bagalatia Arone said when dealing with the Botswana situation experts must avoid looking at countries far away. He said whether there is a market or not is not an issue but the issues are “our people are losing their lives. People are losing their livestock and crops.”
According to the MP (whose constituency is affected by a high number of elephant population and elephants-human conflict) there is need to talk about sustainable ways of dealing with the situation at hand. Arone revealed that if hunting should be brought back so be it. The MP who is also Minister of Basic Education was also part of the Presidential Task Team that was appointed to consult Batswana on the hunting ban. According to Arone, having been born and bred in an area of these flora and fauna there is no need for him to have studied animals to know what has to be done. He said experts should not impose their findings on the communities. “I grew up in the Delta and there is no need to have findings imposed on us. The experts need to come to us and dialogue with people with indigenous knowledge to understand our situation.
“You cannot have a balance when the population of elephants is that much. We want to get rid of the old ones which are even not productive so that we help the little ones to get vegetation,” argued Arone. According to Holly Dublin whether the countries are far or not, whatever happens will impact on the African elephant. She explained that indeed there is need for sustainable ways of dealing with the matter where both elephants and humans will benefit. She stated that there is an opportunity for co-existence in the KAZA area.
“We have to develop co-existence landscape where elephants thrive and people thrive. There are some positive things for KAZA. There is massive infrastructure plans for this area and we need to think as to how the duo can live alongside each other. “KAZA is rich in land and water. There are traders and there is no how we can leave the issue and not talk about it. Trophy hunting is not going to reduce the numbers, we need development scenarios that are workable,” she said.Professor Joseph Mbaiwa from the Okavango Research Institute said there is an escalation of elephants’ population. He said the other contributing factor to the increase is the 2014 hunting ban. The professor stated that the experience has been that there has been damage to crops, livestock, boreholes and killing of people by elephants.
According to Prof Mbaiwa this has been happening in the past five years. He explained that benefits for communities in the affected areas have been low. “There has been negative attitude by communities towards elephants. If there is negative attitude that is not good and there will never be participation in terms of conservation by the communities. “In terms of Community Based Natural Resources Management, only Namibia is doing good in the KAZA area. We want communities to participate. Why could we not have communities form partnerships where they can package their products and services and ensure communities benefit meaningfully,” wondered Prof Mbaiwa.
Southern Africa is home to the largest number of elephants on the continent, with 75 percent of the elephants found within the KAZA TFCA. The estimated number of elephants in areas surveyed in the last ten years in Southern Africa is 293, 447.Elephant numbers in Southern Africa have declined by almost 30, 000 on the basis of updated estimates contained in the 2016 African Elephant Status Report.
Relations between Botswana and Zambia are “soaring” as evidenced by the regular interactions between the two heads of state.This demonstration of the highest political will to facilitate engagements initiated by officials provides ministers of fpreign affairs confidence that they are delivering on their mandate.
Further, Botswana and Zambia have also made significant inroads and strides in the areas of law enforcement, trade and investment, transport and communication and education.In her valedictory this week Tuesday in honour of the outgoing high commissioner of Zambia to Botswana, Brigadier General Patrick Tembo (Rtd) –Minister of international affairs and cooperation Dr. Unity Dow paid a glowing tribute to the Zambian envoy. The farewell reception was held at the Hilton Gardens Hotel in the Central Business Disctrict (CBD) of Gaborone.
Tembo arrived in Botswana from another diplomatic posting in India in 2005 and during his tenure has worked to improve and strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two southern African states. Of significant note, Minister Dow singled out the ongoing construction of the Kazungula Bridge Project, which is co-financed by the two governments as “one of the monuments for successful joint infrastructural development projects between States in the SADC region”. She said they will not forget Tembo when they celebrate those who played a part in seeing “our dream” come to fruition.
Flanked by his wife at the front table, Brig. Gen. Tembo soaked in the showers of praise. He is also renowned for his charitable causes, which he has carried in conjuction with the Zambian Diaspora in Botswana to support NGOs such as Gamodubu Orphanage. Tembo then rose to address the distinguished group of invited guests mostly from the diplomatic corps including Botswana’s newly-appointed Ambassador to France, H.E Mustaq Moorad. He thanked his government for allowing him to serve and Botswana for generously hosting him.
Botswana needs to create one (1) million jobs until the middle of the century if she is to achieve full employment. But, according to the Demographic Dividend report, in order to maintain the current unemployment rate the country will have to create 340 000 jobs until 2050.
Ambassador of the European Union to Botswana and SADC, Jan Sadek shared these staggering statistics recently during the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Sector (TVET) communication campaign dubbed “Making TVET cool”. Sadek said that demographic developers in Botswana will see thousands of young people enter the labour market in coming decades, in a context where the formal labour market is still small.
He advised that youth need to be empowered with skills that meet the market requirements of technical skills, soft skills and work ethics in order to get jobs.Entrepreneurial skills must be complemented by policies that support entrepreneurship in order to create self-sustained employment, he said. Sadek said that providing youth with access to education and Technical and Vocational Training is of paramount importance. “If we want to boost investment and create jobs, skills need to be matched with demands of the labor market,” he said.
He added that TVET increases employability by equipping the youth with the technical skills to meet labour market needs and opportunities. The campaign is aimed at changing the perception that society already has regarding TVET as programme targeting students with minimum pass rate. He added that TVET and skills training do not create jobs themselves, but that jobs are created by the private sector. “The active engagement of the private sector in all levels of the TVET system is fundamental to increase its quality and relevance through apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job training,” said Sadek.
He said making TVET an effective driver for the country’s economic and social development needs concerted efforts and actions of all stakeholders.“It requires a well-functioning governance framework that incorporates and balances stakeholders’ different interests, expectations and potentials through strong collaboration of public and private actors at all levels,” he said. Sadek shared that the EU is supporting skills development in several countries in the SADC region and that in Botswana they have a budget support programme targeting TVET reforms that amounts to 13 MUER.
A representative of Changing Parents’ Persperctives on TVET, Victoria Damame concurred that a lot of parents perceive TVET to be meant for the less academically gifted students, which limits the potential and impact of the programme. “This is supported by certain views like vigorous entry requirements. Students who enrol for TVET mostly have less points and that even goes to an extent of hindering those with higher qualifications to choose a TVET course because a parent won’t allow it, with that perception that TVET is for the less academic students,” she said.
Botswana and Zimbabwe signed an Extradition Treaty that will facilitate the serving of justice for the people of both countries. President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Zimbabwe dean counterart, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa signed the Treaty today (Thursday 28 February 2919) during the inaugural meeting of the Botswana-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission that was held in Harare.
The Treaty accords both countries to fight cross-border crime through exchange of information and will enable either country to extradite a suspect wanted for prosecution in the other country. Other decisions made during the bi-national commission include the commitment to fastrack the establishment of an international trade route, linking Botswana and Zimbabwe to the Eastern markets, through Mozambique known as the Ponta Techobanine Project.
According to President Dr Masisi in his closing remarks, Ponta Techobanine Project is a vital trade corridor that will “unlock the economic potential of the three countries, and also contribute towards greater regional integration”.
He called for the development of robust work programmes that will ensure these commitments become tangible. In particular he urged senior officials of both countries to take advantage of the existing mechanisms, such as the Mid-Term Review to monitor and evaluate progress on the implementation of all the decisions made at BNC.
Masisi said the success of Botswana/Zimbabwe bilateral cooperation is not only important for the SADC Regional Integration Agenda, but also for the realisation of the Continental Agenda as espoused in Agenda 2063.
“This is because, as Africans, our socio-political systems and economies remain inter-woven”, he said. In conclusion Dr. Masisi invited President Mnangagwa to the next Bi-National Commission that will be held in Botswana in early 2020 at dates still to be mutually agreed.
In this eighth edition, Fauconnier and Mandimika have focused on the need for efficient infrastructure – something they believe is key to unlocking opportunities and tapping into the growth that Africa has to offer.
The publication highlights some key findings – that Africa’s lack of efficient infrastructure shaves up to 2.6 percent off its average per-capita growth rate (The World Bank), placing significant strain on human development; that the annual infrastructure need is US$130bn-US$170bn annually (The African Development Bank); and that the continent’s available capital is insufficient to achieve this. In short, the lack of efficient infrastructure is one of the highest hurdles to business in Africa.
But Where to Invest in Africa also shows that this obstacle represents an opportunity to businesses involved in the development or financing of infrastructure projects. Says Fauconnier, “developing infrastructure is synonymous with developing Africa and unlocking her enormous growth potential.”
When Fauconnier and Mandimika talk infrastructure, they’re referring to hard or tangible infrastructure (transport, energy, ICT) or the physical structures connecting people, places or businesses to the economy; soft or intangible infrastructure or the development of services (education, health) or the policy environment; financing infrastructure, relating to who’s financing Africa’s infrastructure gap, how they’re being funded and what they’re investing in; regional infrastructure or on-the-ground programmes; and technological infrastructure or how new technologies (e.g. digitalisation) are impacting Africa’s economic outlook.
So, what are the challenges to infrastructure development? They are: weak legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks; weak infrastructure planning and project preparation; ineffective governance; and corruption, one of the consequences being limited private-sector involvement. The key to building well-targeted infrastructure connecting African economies to global value chains is “governments dedicated to the task,” adds Fauconnier. The Brookings Institution puts some numbers to that dedication, noting that to sustain 3-3.5 percent economic-growth rates in Africa, infrastructure spending as a proportion of GDP should be 5-6 percent annually. It is currently at 2 percent (average). “Only a few countries globally have managed this allocation,” continues Fauconnier, “but execution of these funds hasn’t necessarily been effective.” Medium term, Africa’s fiscal imbalances will hinder increased spending. “We see governments over the next decade emphasising implementing structural changes – more so than ever. And how better than by developing infrastructure?” she asks. “It’s vital that both public and private players have mechanisms to ensure that their investments provide the best returns possible.”
RMB has incorporated a ranking that encompasses both the hard- and soft-infrastructure qualities for 53 African countries. The top ten best-performing African economies are a mix between the island economies, southern Africa and North Africa.
Where to Invest in Africa examines hard infrastructure in relation to its deficits, challenges and projects – current and future. “Over the last decade, we’ve seen infrastructure-development emphasis shifting from ICT to electricity generation and road-infrastructure improvements,” says Fauconnier.
“This trend will continue over the medium term, as poor roads and unavailable or irregular electricity supply prove costly to operations.” When assessing the overall quality of hard infrastructure in Africa, Seychelles dominated the rankings, with its high-quality tourism infrastructure and strong ICT capabilities. North and southern Africa also featured highly –not surprising, since they’re home to some of Africa’s biggest, most diversified economies. According to the publication, common to the ten lowest-ranked countries is that they’re mostly fragile states, involved in conflict.
Hard infrastructure, core to growth, is essential for boosting economic growth levels. But it is soft infrastructure that’s key when it comes to the quality of economic growth – or inclusive growth – and therefore essential to overall growth. “Sadly, infrastructure build hasn’t catered sufficiently for soft-infrastructure development, implying that the economic-growth benefits haven’t filtered through to most Africans,” says Fauconnier. “Promises to improve soft infrastructure are used in election campaigning. But promises don’t always translate into implementation. The politicised nature of soft infrastructure and insufficient financing are major challenges in this space.” In Africa, the quality of services is difficult to measure. But taking specific human-development data (life expectancy, education, income) into consideration, one can, at least, see where they’re lacking. The North African, southern African and island economies dominate the higher rankings here, as they’re the most developed, with stronger institutions and policies in place than the rest of the continent.
“Closing the infrastructure gap in Africa is a mammoth task,” states Fauconnier, “But it must be taken on. And it must be addressed by both the public and private sectors.” In Africa, 90 percent of the projects underway are financed by public revenue through central governments or municipalities, the remainder, privately. According to the data, construction accounts for 83 percent of all ongoing projects being funded by the private sector, while the same sector draws just 12 percent of public investment. Governments, on the other hand, lean towards transport and energy-related projects, which together account for 84 percent of public investment and 13 percent of private investment. Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt (in that order) stand out as the three countries with the most publicly-funded infrastructure developments in Africa. Private funders show similar country preferences as their public counterparts, the notable exception being South Africa, the third-highest country by number of projects.
Top 10 investment attractiveness-ranked countries:
Egypt: Africa’s largest economy GDP-wise, boasting the biggest consumer market in the Middle East and North Africa, its diversified economy receiving large FDIs.
South Africa: Also still an FDI hot spot, with the country’s currency and capital markets a cut above the rest of Africa’s, according to Fauconnier. But she warns that subdued economic growth and this year’s upcoming elections have created political-party divisions, which hamper policymaking.
Morocco: Africa’s fifth-largest market, which, with its medium-term growth-rate expectation at 4 percent, boasts an enhanced operating environment and investment appeal.
Ethiopia: Set to be the fastest-growing economy in Africa, averaging 8.2 percent for the next six years – a slight normalisation from the 10 percent average experienced over the past decade. The robust momentum is supported by improved macroeconomic policies and higher government investment in local industries and human capital.
Kenya: Delivered a diverse economy and sustained expansion in consumer demand, urbanisation, EAC integration, structural reforms and infrastructure development, which include an oil pipeline, railways, ports and power generation.
Rwanda: Another fast-growing economy, boasting the second-best business environment. Although a small market, the government is investing heavily into its domestic industries, with a significant increase of FDI recorded over the past decade.
Tanzania: Expected to grow at 6.5 percent over the next five years. The economy is expected to overtake Kenya’s, supported by its resource-based manufacturing, tax incentives and development of special economic zones.
Nigeria: Jumped back into the Top 10 due to improved macroeconomics, supported by recovering oil prices and production and favourable demographics attracting FDI.
Ghana: Has strong growth rates concentrated around the oil and gas sector, while the non-oil sector growth is supported by pro-business reforms.
Has strong growth rates, supported by large infrastructure investment, particularly in transport and energy.
In assessing Africa’s most attractive investment environments, RMB considered two important conditions for viable investment: economic activity and operating environment.Eleven countries are forecast to grow above 6 percent; Ethiopia set to be Africa’s fastest-growing economy. Certain sectors provide opportunities for long-term growth. Resources will continue to be key in attracting funds – particularly in the hydrocarbon, base and precious metals spheres. The all-important demographic dividend – especially the strong growth in population, urbanisation and GDP per capita – also provides growth opportunities.
RMB also identified other growth opportunities. From a fiscal perspective, Africa has low levels of revenue collection. The IMF estimates that SSA could potentially collect an extra 3-5 percent of GDP in tax revenues by improving collection systems and broadening the tax net. Says Fauconnier: “Private-sector investment has also been lacking. This could change through more business-environment reforms, increased infrastructure and financial-market development and trade openness.”
The report found no real improvements in operating environments across Africa. Although findings reveal a slight improvement to the overall operating environment, access to financing, corruption, weak governance and inadequate efficient infrastructure remain problematic factors for doing business in Africa. The top five performers in terms of operating environments were Mauritius, Rwanda, Botswana, South Africa and the Seychelles. Mauritius is now in its 11th year of being the easiest business environment in Africa, and it keeps on improving.
Botswana has been ranked 34 out of 180 countries and placed among countries to watch in this year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released on Tuesday by Transparency International. The country comes second at a score 61 out of 100 after Seychelles which tops the Sub-Saharan region at score 66 out of 100. Cabo Verde follows Botswana closely at 57 out of 100.
The report presents a largely gloomy picture for Africa with only eight out of 49 countries scoring more than 43 out of 100 on the index, despite commitments from African leaders in declaring 2018 as the African Year of Anti-Corruption. According to the report, countries like Seychelles and Botswana, which score higher on the CPI than other countries in the region, have a few attributes in common.
Both have relatively well-functioning democratic and governance systems, which help contribute to their scores. The report underscores that these countries are the exception rather than the norm in a region where most democratic principles are at risk and corruption is high.
Botswana alongside Angola, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya are countries to watch, given some promising political developments. However, Transparency International pins hope on whether these new administrations will follow through on their anti-corruption commitments moving forward. At the very bottom of the index for the seventh year in a row, Somalia scores 10 points, followed by South Sudan at 13 to round out the lowest scores in the region.
With an average score of just 32, Sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest scoring region on the index, followed closely by Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with an average score of 35. Sub-Saharan Africa remains a region of stark political and socio-economic contrasts and many longstanding challenges.
While a large number of countries have adopted democratic principles of governance, several are still governed by authoritarian and semi-authoritarian leaders. Autocratic regimes, civil strife, weak institutions and unresponsive political systems continue to undermine anti-corruption efforts.
Notwithstanding Sub-Saharan Africa’s overall poor performance, there are a few countries that push back against corruption, and with notable progress.Two countries – Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal – are, for the second year in a row, among the significant improvers on the CPI.
In the last six years, Côte d’Ivoire moved from 27 points in 2013 to 35 points in 2018, while Senegal moved from 36 points in 2012 to 45 points in 2018. These gains may be attributed to the positive consequences of legal, policy and institutional reforms undertaken in both countries as well as political will in the fight against corruption demonstrated by their respective leaders.
Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association (BEMA) President Nkosi Mwaba has called upon the business community and government to offer unwavering support to local enterprises, before allowing foreign companies to fish in the local market.
“We need to unapologetically support, protect and develop local industries before rushing to conform to often unrealistic regional trade expectations,” said Mwaba.
The President argued that open market only favours already thriving economies not small and developing economies, where entrepreneurs compete with already established companies.
“The spirit of open borders is noble idea and works well in a perfect world with all things being equal. The truth is, we do believe in free trade and an open border system, but only if it is fair and only if it is aligned to the healthy development and growth of Botswana companies,” Mwaba said.
BEMA believes deliberate efforts to support local entrepreneurs will unearth local world-class companies and produce world -class products.
“We need to move away from the mindset where businesses and procuring entities find it okay to prefer foreign brands to our own,” said Mwaba adding that uninterrupted and unlimited importation presents unfair competition.
He called upon government to swiftly address issues of trade to allow local companies to grow before imports are allowed to flood the country.
“Let us grow in the spirit of putting Botswana first.”
Latest Statistics Botswana data indicate the country’s exports for May recorded an increase to P6, 553.1 million in which diamonds accounted for 91.0 percent of total exports, copper and nickel 0.1 percent, gold 0.6 percent iron steel and related products 0.2 percent, machinery and electrical equipment 2.8 percent, meat and meat products 1.1 percent, plastic and plastic products 0.4 percent salt and soda ash 1.0 percent textile 0.4 percent, vehicles and transport equipment 0.6 percent while other goods share was 1.9 percent.
On the reverse side, the total imports value for May was pegged at P4, 127.8 million showing a decrease of 11.6 percent.
Mwaba believes that supporting local companies could also curb the growing concern of upward spiraling unemployment numbers.
According to BEMA, the country needs to generate momentum in its net exports and bring them to at least 15 percent of the annual GDP.
Early this year government signed the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agreement which consists of 26 countries of the three Regional Economic Communities of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Commission (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Botswana becomes the 22nd country to append its signature to the agreement which aims to boost intra-African trade through the creation of a wider market, increased investment flows, enhanced competitiveness and development of cross-regional infrastructure.
TFTA is expected to come into force in April next year, supporting efforts to achieve the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was launched this year.
So far, other countries that have the agreement include Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, State of Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, eSwatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe.