Botswana is besieged by long standing challenges that have rendered the economy of the sub-Saharan nation a much more troubled one amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The challenges that engulf the country were highlighted in a recent report released by the United Nations titled “Botswana: Common Country Analysis (CCA) 2020.”
According to the executive summary of the report, although Botswana transformed from being among the world’s poorest countries at independence into a medium-income state in the early 2000s, it is today one of the 10 most unequal countries in the world.
According to the report, the country’s economy is unsustainable and has been reliant on mineral revenue for growth over the years. “Botswana’s current economic model is not sustainable: the country is over-reliant on mining for revenues and growth, and the COVID-19 pandemic has hit it hard,” reads the summary.
“The government’s focus has rightly shifted toward the non-mining sector. However, the government’s revised budget for 2020/21 is 16 percent less than originally envisioned, suggesting that the country will have to do more (including achieve the SDGs) with fewer financial resources.”
Poverty and inequality are rampant in Botswana, it emphasises. “Botswana continues to struggle with high levels of poverty and inequality,” it notes.
The UN report says unemployment was 23.2 percent in Q1 2020 “and is higher among women than men”. It adds that “the rate will likely increase due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Children, adolescent girls and young women, women, youth, the rural poor, the elderly, indigenous people, people with disabilities, the LGBTIQ community, migrants and refugees form a long list of those left behind while the accused and detained people are among groups marginalised by various cross-cutting factors.
“Botswana recognises the value of its natural capital in providing resources and services needed for future development and economic growth,’’ says the report. “However, while the country is richly endowed with natural capital, it is challenged by biodiversity loss, food insecurity and climate change.”