Botswana, the African exception
The title of this issue of Africana “Botswana, the African exception” does not attempt to camouflage the shortcomings of this country, interesting in many respects, but in need, like many others, of healing reforms. It is only intended to underline its particularity in its most positive aspects, which are many.
Botswana distinguishes itself from other African countries by the good state of its economy. When it became independent from the United Kingdom in 1966, Botswana was a poor country, a desert for the most part of its territory; a country with no great future. However, in 2016, fifty years later, Botswana had become one of the most prosperous countries in the world, with a per capita income of $16,947, mainly due to its diamond exports. Botswana is, after Russia, the second largest exporter of this precious stone, although its production in gold, uranium, copper and even oil is not negligible. One of Botswana’s economic successes was its ability to diversify its sources of income, also favouring other sectors, such as livestock and tourism. We must not forget that Botswana has one of the richest wildlife sanctuaries on the planet, an exuberant flora and fauna, a river, the Okavango, 1,000 kilometers long, which flows into the Kalahari desert, creating a beautiful delta in its region. Thanks to its diversified diamond, tourism and beef policies, Botswana has become one of Southern Africa’s leading livestock and meat exporters.
For the United Nations, Botswana is “one of the true successes of Africa’s economic and human development.” Greg Mills of the Brenthurst Foundation, an independent South African economic research group, says Botswana’s transformation is “the result of long-term vision, political stability and prudent governance.”
Botswana comfortably passes the examination of a country with acceptable governance. But not everything is perfect. The author of the report, Father Juan Manuel Pérez Charlin, warns us, with good judgment, that there are voices of discontent towards the authoritarian policies of the Government and customs of nepotism, discrimination and exclusions that go against the equality of rights of all citizens.
A policy based solely on economic criteria leads to forgetting – as has already happened and is still happening with the Bushmen – the most fundamental rights of the individual and of people. Botswana is the African exception, but it seems that there is room for improvement.
Magazine AFRICANA of the sector of Spain – June 2019 – N° 197