Getting Unstuck - Botswana's Economic Diversification Challenge

Published 10 June 2015

Botswana turns 50 next year. At independence one of Africa’s poorest countries, Botswana is now classified as an upper middle income country and for years has been one of the continent’s top performers across most indices of governance and human development. Yet its economy is stuck. Unable thus far to move beyond dependence on a single commodity – diamonds, the backbone of the economy – to a more resilient, diversified economy, stark questions are being asked about the future economic growth and prosperity of Botswana.

Such concerns are compounded in the current environment, where inability to access reliable electricity and water has become a serious brake on business investment and growth.

This Discussion Paper by former Machel Mandela Intern Leungo Motlhabane examines Botswana’s past efforts at economic diversification and why government has not been able to bridge its voluble political rhetoric on diversification with purposeful action and implementation on the ground.

Unlike much of Africa, however, Botswana can draw on its own successful experience in decades past of sound resource management and prudent development choices to renew the country’s economic landscape and prospects.

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