Botswana is an African nation that is situated on the southern edge of the continent where it spans an area of roughly 224,610 square miles. In the past, particularly in the 1960s, the Botswana economy was one of the lowest-ranked economies in the world with its per capita gross domestic product being roughly $70. The Botswana government implemented some economic reforms that gradually transformed the country's economy. In 2017, the Botswana gross domestic product was roughly $17.41 billion which was the 112th highest in the world, and the per capita GDP was $18,146 which was the 71st highest in the world. The Botswana economy is heavily dependent on its natural resources which include minerals, arable land, and livestock.
Data from the Botswana government indicated that in 2015, Botswana's arable land was roughly 0.7% of the country's total area. Large sections of the Botswana people live in rural areas and are extremely dependent on agriculture both for subsistence and for their livelihoods. The Botswana government indicates that on average the agriculture sector contributes roughly 3% to the country's gross domestic product each year. Despite the low contribution of agriculture to the Botswana economy, the industry is still crucial to the people mainly due to its cultural significance. Most of Botswana's agriculturally productive land is situated in the eastern section of the country. Some of the most common crops in Botswana's eastern section include millet, maize, and sorghum. Botswana is often forced to import food items from other countries such as South Africa to satisfy the local demand. The Botswana agriculture sector faces several significant challenges such as soil erosion, the over-reliance on traditional agricultural methods, and perennial droughts. To combat these challenges, the Botswana government has set aside money to research on soil conservation and to develop grain varieties suited to the Botswana climate.
In Botswana, livestock is some of the most critical natural resources. The most important livestock in Botswana are the cattle, which according to several estimates outnumber people in the country. In 2011, according to estimates from the government of Botswana, there were close to 2.5 million cattle in the country which was more than the population which was estimated at 2,024,787. The livestock sector contributes roughly 80% to the country's agricultural sector. Botswana cattle farmers produce more cattle than the country requires and the surplus is sold to other nations mainly in the European Union. The most significant threat facing the Botswana livestock industry is diseases such as the foot and mouth disease. The Botswana government has equipped veterinarians in the country with sufficient skills to combat the challenges that face the country's livestock sector.
Botswana has been blessed with a variety of stunning sites that attract huge numbers of tourists to the country each year. Some of the most stunning sites in Botswana are the country's national parks one of which is located in the Kalahari Desert. The Central Kalahari reserve is one of the most important in Botswana due to the vast area it covers, roughly 20,400 square miles which are approximately 10% of the state's total land area. The reserve is exceptionally famous because it is home to four distinct fossilized rivers. The central Kalahari reserve is also famous because it is home to various wildlife species such as the sable antelope, the white rhino and the blue wildebeest. Another famous site in Botswana is the Okavango Delta which is considered one of Africa's Seven Natural Wonders. Data indicates that in 2016, most of the visitors to Botswana were from other African nations such as Zimbabwe and South Africa. Visitors from the United States also accounted for a large number of tourists to Botswana.
Botswana's mineral sector is one of the most critical sectors in the country. Mining has been a crucial sector of the Botswana economy since the early 1970s. The country has been blessed with a vast quantity of high-quality minerals ranging from copper to diamonds. Estimates from the Botswana government indicated that in 2005 minerals accounted for close to 40% of the country's gross domestic product. In 2005, it was also estimated that minerals accounted for close to 85% of the country's total exports. In 2014, according to data from the mineral yearbook, the mining sector contributed roughly 23% of the country's gross domestic product. According to Botswana's labor department, roughly 24,000 people were formally employed in the nation's mining industry.
One of Botswana's most important minerals is copper which is mined at some sites such as the Selebi-Phikwe mine and the Phoenix Mine. Data indicates that copper production in Botswana decreased significantly from 2013, when the nation produced approximately 21,300 tons of smelted copper, to 2014, when it produced 14,600 tons of smelted copper. Several companies were involved in extracting copper from Botswana such as the Bamangwato Concessions Limited as well as the Tati Nickel Mining Company.
Since the colonial era, gold has been one of Botswana's most important minerals. The Taiti Goldfield was one of the first areas in Botswana where significant gold deposits were discovered. Several companies were set up in Botswana to take advantage of the significant gold deposits but by 2014 only a single company, Galane Gold Limited, mined gold on a large-scale. In 2014, Botswana produced roughly 2,112 pounds of gold which was a decrease from the 2013 production of 2,659 pounds.
Diamonds are the most important minerals in Botswana due to the value of money they contribute to the country's gross domestic product. In 2014, it was estimated that Botswana produced roughly $4 billion worth of rough diamonds. Most of Botswana's rough diamonds were sold to other nations before they were polished. The Botswana government estimated that in 2014 the state exported close to $7 billion worth of rough diamonds. There are several major diamond mines in Botswana such as the Orapa Mine, the Jwaneng Mine, and the Damtshaa Mine.
The Diversification of the Botswana Economy
The government of Botswana has planned to diversify its economy to reduce its reliance on the mineral sector. The Botswana government has invited investors from several nations to diversify its economy.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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