Botswana: an African success story.

G

Gadjodilo

These days, we’re hearing only bad news on Radio Africa. Zimbabwe is collapsing into a mess of despotism and state-induced hunger. The violence in the Republic of Congo simmers on. The genocidal war that the Sudanese government wages in Darfur is spilling across the border into Chad and destabilising that country. Ethiopia and Eritrea look like they’re about to resume their border war. Nigeria – which with its oil resources should be an economic powerhouse – is mired in poverty, corruption and intermittent sectarian violence.

Different analyses are offered by left and right. The left often blames the continent’s woes on its colonial past and the borders drawn by Europeans around the modern day states that have nothing to do with the ethnic make up of the region. However Somalia, the one country in Africa that could truly claim to be a nation state in terms on homogeneity, common language and religion is one of the continent’s worst basket cases, is riven by inter-clan violence and has in effect been a failed state since the early 1990s. In any case, a massive redrawing of borders to create nice neat nation states as we have in Europe would be a nightmarish exercise. Also, given the nomadic nature of many farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, the final result would probably still be unworkable.

The right argues for more free market reform, breaking down of trade barriers and cutting of state expenditure. However, cutting social spending in countries where people are already barely surviving will obviously drive them below subsistence level. This has (unsurprisingly) tended to provoke widespread opposition and undermined or at least discouraged further attempts at economic reform

Then there are those further to the right who take an unabashedly racist standpoint and argue that Africans are incapable of developing advanced societies and no amount of aid or economic reform will change this. This writer has had sharp exchanges recently in other forums with some of these individuals; one of whom was advocating the recolonisation by the European powers of most of Africa.

In response to these latter types, there is one country that disproves their chauvinistic theories.

When it became independent in 1966, Botswana was a desperately poor country; one of the poorest in the world. Its people worked overwhelmingly on the land and education levels were very low – even by African standards. Yet today, through sound economic management, Botswana is a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of more than $11,000 in 2006; higher than some members of the European Union. It is ranked as the best credit risk in Africa; it was recently once again assigned "A" grade credit ratings by Moody's and Standard & Poor's. This puts it on a par with or above many countries in central Europe, East Asia, and Latin America Botswana also has an extremely low level of foreign debt – only one quarter that of the Republic of Ireland when expressed as a percentage of GDP.

Botswana is rated as Africa's least corrupt country with lower levels of graft than many European and Asian countries. The WEF (World Economic Forum) has ranked Botswana as one of the two most economically competitive nations in Africa. Inflation is kept low and the government has built up foreign exchange reserves (over $7 billion in 2005/2006) to cover almost two and a half years of imports at current prices.

Botswana’s achievements don’t just lie in the economic sphere. For four decades – right from the point of independence – it has been a stable democracy with unbroken civilian rule. While chaos reigned on its borders, while South Africa and Rhodesia festered under minority rule and Angola and Mozambique fought brutal wars of liberation against their Portuguese overlords, Botswana managed to maintain its internal stability. Later, as SWAPO (South West African Peoples Organisation) fought to free Namibia from South African control and the newly independent Zimbabwe sank into internal strife and despotism, Botswana somehow succeeded in maintaining stability, democracy and growth in what was becoming a very dangerous neighbourhood.

In the field of education, literacy – in excess of 80% is one of the highest in Africa and unusually for an African country, female literacy is actually higher than that of the males. Also, young people have a literacy rate well in excess of 90% which to all intents and purposes puts them on a par with their European and North American peers.

Earnings from the export of diamonds are what lie at the heart of Botswana’s success. However, the government is wisely trying to diversify away from over reliance on this one commodity. Tourism is becoming increasingly important as visitors flock to see the spectacular Kalahari Desert and the country has won praise for its conservation practices and extensive nature reserves.. Also, the recent discovery of uranium bodes well for the Botswana’s continued success.

There are problems up ahead. The ruin of Zimbabwe has driven thousands of refugees across the border into Botswana. Also, in common with its neighbours, Botswana faces major challenges with its AIDS epidemic. However, unlike for example South Africa, the
government is seriously trying to combat the epidemic, with free antiretroviral drug treatment and a nation-wide scheme to prevent mother-to-child transmission. It is widely recognised that Botswana has one of Africa's most progressive and comprehensive programs for dealing with the disease.

All in all, Botswana shines out amid the doom and gloom of Africa as a sign that Africans can build successful societies that offer their people a decent life.
 


mr_anderson

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ahhh now you've fu*ked it up.
you're gonna have every paddy hopping on the plane and buying every off-the-plan 2 bed in sight.
 

LTGuy

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Gadjodilo said:
Botswana is a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of more than $11,000 in 2006; higher than some members of the European Union.
True, but to be precise only nad higher than GDP per capita in Romania and Bulgaria. At least was in 2006, and I am sure both Romania and Bulgaria will overtake it easily this or next year due to their neck-breaking speed of development. But still - GDP twice higher than in Albania - that is sort of achievement. Thumbs up :D
 

The Lighthouse Keeper

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It does help to have lots diamonds lying around the place like Botswana does. The trick seems to be to make sure they are not stolen where they lay or by kleptocrats.
 

rockofcashel

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Lived there for a while, and it is a fine country. Beautiful people.

The funny story I was told about it, was that it was under British rule, but they gave it back to the Botswana because they couldn't find any diamonds in it, and basically thought it nothing more than worthless desert. They put a British educated Tswana in charge, Seretse Khama, and he called in de Beers to have another look. Three years later, they found huge deposits, and the resultant wealth was shared to a decent extent amongst the local people.
 

Gombeen

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rockofcashel said:
Lived there for a while, and it is a fine country. Beautiful people.

The funny story I was told about it, was that it was under British rule, but they gave it back to the Botswana because they couldn't find any diamonds in it, and basically thought it nothing more than worthless desert. They put a British educated Tswana in charge, Seretse Khama, and he called in de Beers to have another look. Three years later, they found huge deposits, and the resultant wealth was shared to a decent extent amongst the local people.

British Colonists on hearing the news


 
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It cannot be wholly explained by diamonds. Plenty of nations in that part of the world have resources, but are still shockingly poor.
 

Catalpa

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Fair play to Botswana! :D

IMO the less outsiders butt their noses into Africa's affairs and let them know they are on their own in a big bad world re 'Aid' then the sooner they will get their own act together.

Mind you I think all these tales of woe coming out of Africa are somwhat lobsided - sure some places are bad and look like hopeless cases but its not an even picture.


Africa for the Africans! :cool:
 

johnfás

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Catalpa said:
IMO the less outsiders butt their noses into Africa's affairs and let them know they are on their own in a big bad world re 'Aid' then the sooner they will get their own act together.
International community has a role to play. My uncle used to be head of a UK delegation to Botswana to advise on crop development. It has reaped huge rewards for the country in regard to agriculture. Independent but with support. Just like Ireland gained insight, expertise and finance from the European Union.

Your point on Aid is half right. Africa needs to be lifted and lift itself from the reliance on Aid. However, Aid plays a part. As long as aid is still required in this country to pay for cancer units for childrens hospitals and to shelter the homeless, I guarantee you it will be necessary in multiples of for most African countries.
 

Catalpa

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johnfás said:
Catalpa said:
IMO the less outsiders butt their noses into Africa's affairs and let them know they are on their own in a big bad world re 'Aid' then the sooner they will get their own act together.
International community has a role to play. My uncle used to be head of a UK delegation to Botswana to advise on crop development. It has reaped huge rewards for the country in regard to agriculture. Independent but with support. Just like Ireland gained insight, expertise and finance from the European Union.

Your point on Aid is half right. Africa needs to be lifted and lift itself from the reliance on Aid. However, Aid plays a part. As long as aid is still required in this country to pay for cancer units for childrens hospitals and to shelter the homess, I guarantee you it will be necessary in multiples of for most African countries.
Yeah I know what you mean. The heart clashes with the head over this one. If Aid is done right then thats to the good but the general perception is that a lot of it goes down the sink ... :?
 

Rocky

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Catalpa said:
johnfás said:
Catalpa said:
IMO the less outsiders butt their noses into Africa's affairs and let them know they are on their own in a big bad world re 'Aid' then the sooner they will get their own act together.
International community has a role to play. My uncle used to be head of a UK delegation to Botswana to advise on crop development. It has reaped huge rewards for the country in regard to agriculture. Independent but with support. Just like Ireland gained insight, expertise and finance from the European Union.

Your point on Aid is half right. Africa needs to be lifted and lift itself from the reliance on Aid. However, Aid plays a part. As long as aid is still required in this country to pay for cancer units for childrens hospitals and to shelter the homess, I guarantee you it will be necessary in multiples of for most African countries.
Yeah I know what you mean. The heart clashes with the head over this one. If Aid is done right then thats to the good but the general perception is that a lot of it goes down the sink ... :?
The problem is an awful lot of aid goes to corrupt officials who have no interest in improving the situation in their countries, but instead want to become richer and they use that aid to keep themselves in power and get more money, so it actually hurts Africa. Aid is great if it’s done right, but if it's done wrong I'd say it’s negative to Africa. The West has a role to make sure that it’s spent better, but at the same time as long as Africa is as corrupt as it is now, it will always be poor, no matter what the West does.

Most of Africa is getting better now though. The days of a new coup every few years are over and most countries are ruled by civilians and have elections, although they most couldn’t be called free and fair. However it is a step in the right direction. The number of wars and insane murderous dictators has substantially decreased as well in the last 20 or so years. There are moves in many countries to fight corruption as well. It’s a slow process, but most of Africa is slowly getting better and in many countries growth rates aren’t bad.
 
G

Gadjodilo

LTGuy said:
True, but to be precise only nad higher than GDP per capita in Romania and Bulgaria. At least was in 2006, and I am sure both Romania and Bulgaria will overtake it easily this or next year due to their neck-breaking speed of development.
I don't think so. All three countries are averaging arouund 5-6% over the last few years and with large uranium deposits having been found in Botswana, I'd say we'd see another spurt in growth.


LTGuy said:
But still - GDP twice higher than in Albania - that is sort of achievement. Thumbs up :D
Would you ever do us all a favour and get over your Albania-obsession?
 
G

Gadjodilo

The Lighthouse Keeper said:
It does help to have lots diamonds lying around the place like Botswana does. The trick seems to be to make sure they are not stolen where they lay or by kleptocrats.
Well obviously. But many countries have huge natural wealth but don't have the means or infrastructure to exploit it. Also, Botswana has many natural challenges as well. It's land-locked, situated in what was a dangerous part of the world and has a harsh, dry landscape with much of it desert.
 
G

Gadjodilo

irishpeoplearewhingers said:
It cannot be wholly explained by diamonds. Plenty of nations in that part of the world have resources, but are still shockingly poor.
Exactly! Look at Saudi Arabia. It's got massive oil wealth and is only slightly richer.
 
G

Gadjodilo

johnfás said:
International community has a role to play. My uncle used to be head of a UK delegation to Botswana to advise on crop development. It has reaped huge rewards for the country in regard to agriculture. Independent but with support. Just like Ireland gained insight, expertise and finance from the European Union.
We gained finance from the EU but that wasn’t the main factor in the Celtic Tiger. The insight and expertise was home-grown IMHO.
 

Defeated Romanticist

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Gadjodilo said:
The right argues for more free market reform, breaking down of trade barriers and cutting of state expenditure. However, cutting social spending in countries where people are already barely surviving will obviously drive them below subsistence level. This has (unsurprisingly) tended to provoke widespread opposition and undermined or at least discouraged further attempts at economic reform

Then there are those further to the right who take an unabashedly racist

Botswana is rated as Africa's least corrupt country with lower levels of graft than many European and Asian countries. The WEF (World Economic Forum) has ranked Botswana as one of the two most economically competitive nations in Africa. Inflation is kept low and the government has built up foreign exchange reserves (over $7 billion in 2005/2006) to cover almost two and a half years of imports at current prices.
Good Post, sorry, I cut for conveniance sake,

A. Reducing social welfare in states where thy have SFA anyway won't make a huge difference (I'm not including Famine aid in that). The main proble in Africa is that it doesn't have many of the buildin blocks of a market. Much of the land held by small holders is not strictly legal. i could go down to Tanzania and claim I own some field belonging to a small farmer and legally he couldn't prove it was his. In reality this means that they have great difficulty in obtaining credit as they have nothing to secure it with. Many on the left blame the market for Africa's troubles. This is not true, it is because they havn't had free trade with the rest of the world that they've been held back. And then there's the population growth, and the immature democracies, the list goes on, but the old Friedman dictum applies to Africa, Economic Freedom breeds political freedom. Check out the economist Hernando de Soto, he is singlehandedly saving the thid world.

B. The far right are really the hyper left, check out the Economic policies of the BNP and Le Pen if you don't believe me. They operate the socialisation model, nation instead of class, foreigner instead of class enemy.

C. Forget South Africa(1 murder per 1000 no thanks), Botswana-Senegal co-hosted World Cup 2010 anyone?
 
G

Gadjodilo

Defeated Romanticist said:
Gadjodilo said:
B. The far right are really the hyper left, check out the Economic policies of the BNP and Le Pen if you don't believe me. They operate the socialisation model, nation instead of class, foreigner instead of class enemy.
Ah, that old chestnut! Are these loons left or right? Not wanting to lend them any credibility, but I'd be inclined to accept that they do represent some sort of (bizarre, f**ked up) Third Position. By no means all extreme rightist have socialist (albeit race-based) policies. Enoch Powell was a free marketeer and the Nazis were VERY comfortable working hand in glove with big business in Germany.
 

D. Linehan

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Gadjodilo said:
Also, Botswana has many natural challenges as well. It's land-locked, situated in what was a dangerous part of the world and has a harsh, dry landscape with much of it desert.
Only makes the country's relative success all the more impressive. It's heartening to hear stories like this.
 

D. Linehan

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Gadjodilo said:
Also, Botswana has many natural challenges as well. It's land-locked, situated in what was a dangerous part of the world and has a harsh, dry landscape with much of it desert.
Only makes the country's relative success all the more impressive. It's heartening to hear stories like this.
 


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