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Introduction to Country Context

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Botswana is a landlocked southern African country sharing borders with South Africa in the south and east, Namibia in the west, and Zimbabwe and Zambia in the north. It is a semi-arid country covering an area of 581 730 square kilometres. About 70% of the total area is covered by the Kgalagadi desert.

The country has a mean altitude of 1000 m above sea level. The climate ranges from mild to semi-arid. Summers are hot with an average temperature of around 39°C. Rains are usually from October to April. The winter season runs from May through July and is dry and very cold at night.

The Okavango delta, which is one of the country’s major water bodies, occupies the north-western part of the country. The combination of high temperatures and moderate amounts of rainfall creates an optimal environment for the breeding of mosquitoes that transmit malaria. The most common natural hazards for Botswana are floods, drought and veldt fires.

The latest census (2011) registered a population of 2 038 228 persons, an increase of 1.9% from the 2001 census. The population density increased from 3 persons per square kilometre in 2001 to 3.5 persons per square kilometre in 2011. Regarding age distribution, 34% of the population is under the age of 15 years and 6% is over the age of 65 years. Gender distribution shows 90 males to 100 females. Just over 27% of the population comprises of women of childbearing age while children aged under 5 years constitute 12% of the population. The annual population growth rate stands at 2.4% and the total fertility rate is 2.9%.

The percentage of the population living in cities and towns dropped from 23% to 22% between 2001 and 2011. This drop in the urban population may be attributable to a housing shortage in cities that pushed people to live in surrounding villages. A national network of tarred roads connects all urban and major village settlements. Most urban roads, including those joining urban area settlements, are tarred. Most roads in remote areas are undeveloped. The current all-digital network comprising of 5300 km of microwave radio and fibre optic cables provide links for 13 main processors over a layout that allows for alternative routing of traffic should faults on direct routes occur.

Botswana is characterized by resource-intensive production, which is dominated by mining. Tourism is increasingly important in the country’s economy, accounting for 10% of gross domestic product. Botswana is a member of the New Partnership for Africa's Development Southern African Development Community and Southern African Customs Union, with the latter providing a common tariff regime and revenue sharing among participating countries based on an agreed formula. Because of its political stability, low rates of violence and the Government of Botswana’s effectiveness, Botswana has been rated high on governance according to the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators and the least corrupt country in Africa by Transparency International.

Major threats to the country’s economy that have contributed to its slow diversification are:

  • a high dependence on diamonds
  • small market
  • small population with a slow growth rate
  • insufficient skilled human resources
  • landlocked country
  • low level of information and communication technology development
  • HIV/AIDS.

Of late, shortage of electricity in the country has also become a challenge. Although there is a high belief in the rule of law, there is need for a law reform structure that will ensure that the laws are up-to-date and effective.