Economic studies
Botswana

Botswana

Population 2.1 million
GDP per capita 6,7713US$
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Country risk assessment
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Business Climate
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2014 2015  2016 (f) 2017 (f)
GDP growth (%) 3,2 -0,1 3,1 4,0
Inflation (yearly average) (%) 4,4 2,6 2,8 3,7
Budget balance (% GDP) 3,8 -4,1 -3,3 -3,9
Current account balance (% GDP) 15,6 7,2 4,1 3,8
Public debt (% GDP) 17,7 17,2 16,9 15,3

 

(e) Estimate (f) Forecast

STRENGTHS

  • Abundant and diverse natural resources (diamond, copper, uranium, coal)
  • Sustainable level of public and external debt
  • Political stability and level of governance that place Botswana as the leading country in sub-Saharan Africa

WEAKNESSES

  • Dependence on the diamond sector (80% of exports, 30% of budgetary revenues)
  • Insufficient infrastructure (production and distribution of water and electricity)
  • Poverty, inequality and high unemployment

Risk assessment

 

Growth sustained by the mining sector and public investment

In 2017, the business is expected to see a slight increase, supported by an expansionary government policy and a gradual recovery in diamond prices. The mining sector, which accounts for one-quarter of GDP, is driven by a moderate increase in demand for diamonds, the country's main export. Production will also increase following the expansion of the Jwangeng mine, the largest in the country. Nevertheless, investment in other mining products (mainly copper and nickel) is expected to be limited by low commodity prices and the bankruptcy of BCL, one of the leading copper and nickel mining companies in late 2016. In addition, the commissioning of the Morupule B power plant, scheduled for 2017, should help to reduce the difficulties of electricity supply, thus promoting industrial production. However, industrial sectors would always suffer from very inadequate water supply infrastructure. The services sector (45% of GDP), notably tourism, is dynamic, supported by the weakness of the currency against the dollar and by the State's expansionist policy. Positive effects of this policy are also expected in the construction sector. The State's fiscal stimulus policy would promote household consumption despite high poverty and unemployment rates (19.3% and 17.8%, respectively). Thus, inflation will rise due to the increase in domestic demand and the moderate recovery in oil prices, while staying in the target area set by the central bank (3 to 6%). The country also has significant foreign exchange reserves (12 months of imports) that would maintain the stability of the currency.

 

Limited deterioration in the budget and current account balances

The fiscal deficit is expected to broaden slightly in 2017, as a result of the government's expansionary policy. Indeed, a recovery plan (2017–2023) has been implemented to support the diversification of the economy, specifically by promoting the non-mining sectors. This scheme would result in significant investments in labour-intensive sectors (particularly in tourism), in order to reduce unemployment and poverty. Public investment would also be geared towards infrastructure projects (roads, schools) as well as improving water and electricity supply. The program would be financed by drawing on the country's sovereign wealth fund, so that public debt would remain stable or even decline in 2017. This fund was created in 1994 with the aim of saving a portion of the revenues generated from the mining rent and thus beginning the transition to an economy less dependent on this sector.

The surplus current account is expected to continue to decline in 2017 but would remain positive. Exports of mining products (more than 85% of the total) are expected to suffer from weak external demand and unfavourable price changes, particularly for metals (copper and nickel). However, exports of diamonds (the main exported product) would benefit from an increase in demand for precious stones, especially from Europe. At the same time, the need for capital goods, in the context of diversification of the economy should lead to an increase in imports. Growth in imports would also be fuelled by the rise in private consumption and the moderate recovery in oil prices. Nevertheless, the expansion of the services sector, particularly tourism, would limit the deterioration of the current account.

 

Stable political situation despite increasing opposition

The President of the Republic, Ian Khama, was re-elected for a second term in October 2014, following parliamentary elections that enabled his party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), to win a majority in Parliament (two-thirds of seats) although it received only 47% of the popular vote (its lowest score). This decline in popular support was accentuated by the economic downturn in 2015, as well as the high unemployment rate (17.8% in December 2016), especially given the progress of Collective for Democratic Change (UDC), the main opposition party. The success of the government's stimulus policy is therefore crucial if it wants to win the next legislative elections in 2019. Lack of progress in reducing poverty and unemployment could also create tension.

Botswana is consistently classified among the leading African countries in terms of governance and transparency. The country ranks 71st in the World Bank's latest Doing Business ranking, with a decline in performance in business creation and contract enforcement.

 

Last update : January 2017

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