Botswana Independence Day marks another year of economic growth for the thriving African nation
Today on September 30th 2008 Botswana celebrates 42 years of independence from Britain; in the current uncertain economic climate we talk to Alan Marneweck to discover where this southern African nation now sits and what the future holds for the Batswana as well as foreign investors. Alan Marneweck, Director and Founder of the Limpopo-Lipadi Game and Wilderness Reserve, has observed with great interest the history and development of Botswana. Although native to South Africa he has been awarded permanent residence of Botswana due to his continued work within the country.
It is over 130 years since the British Government put Bechuanaland (today’s Botswana) under its protection on the 31st March 1885. In 1920 two advisory councils representing Africans and Europeans were established followed by the proclamations in 1934 regulating tribal rule and powers. In fact to date tribal leaders still hold legal authority and take part in governmental meetings and decisions. It was not until 1964 that Britain accepted proposals for democratic self-government in Botswana and in 1965 the constitution led to the first general elections and subsequently independence, authentic systems of democracy truly representing the will of the people, hence the political stability. Currently in office is His Excellency, Lieutenant-General Seretse Khama Ian KHAMA, the son of the first president of Botswana, he is a president for the next term. He has even appeared on the popular British TV show Top Gear when the presenters undertook driving a car when they filmed in the Makgadikgadi Pan in northern Botswana.
As one of the most politically and economically stable countries in Africa, Botswana ranks 36th in the world according to the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom, a report that is compiled by the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal. Botswana also enjoys the highest sovereign credit rating on the continent of Africa. “It is a middle income nation with a strong compound annual growth rate in the region of 4.7% year on year, since independance” says Alan Marneweck. “Botswana has been one of the fastest growing economical countries in the world over the last 22 years, and as the least corrupt country in Africa it is receiving increased interest from the foreign investor community.”
The credit ratings agency Moody Investor Services has shown that Botswana’s current debt and liquidity has put the country on par with countries like Japan. The report also shows that the government’s prudent management of diamond export earnings has also added to its improved infrastructure and raised standards of living for its people.
From an investment point of view the nation has also improved its global ranking in the Doing Business 2009 report published by the World Bank and IFC. The recent report shows Botswana’s ranking rising 14 places from 52nd in the world to make it the 38th country most easy to do business with.
Not satisfied with just relying purely on the massive wealth that the country enjoys from being the world’s largest producer of diamonds (by value) – the income that accounts for more than one third of its GDP and circa 80% of export earnings – the government of Botswana has entered into a programme of fiscal diversification that is offering ongoing and significant opportunities for the development of multiple sectors of the economy – from tourism to real estate.
In fact the travel and tourism demand in Botswana is forecast to average 5% growth per annum over the next 10 years which will comfortably exceed expected worldwide growth of 4.4%. The demand is already being reflected in the nation’s employment figures. In 2006 the Botswana Tourism Board reported that travel and tourism accounted for one in every 10 jobs and in 2008 they expect the figure to grow to 1 in every 9, with this figure set to rise to 1 in every 7.5 jobs by 2018.
The development of other sub-sectors of travel and tourism in Botswana will see an expansion in nature-based and sustainable tourism. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) highlights the ongoing land allocation for tourism and conservation and environmental efforts saying: “84% of Botswana is a land locked country covering vast bio diversity ranging from the Kalahari to Okavango Delta, 17% by national parks and game reserves and an additional 22% designated as wildlife management areas. Even if tourism is diversified through the promotion of new products, the majority of visitors will still be primarily attracted to Botswana by its unspoiled environment and abundant wildlife. It is therefore vital that these irreplaceable assets continue to be protected if travel and tourism is to be sustained.”
Limpopo-Lipadi, in eastern Botswana is a good example of the diversification of tourism and investment. Celebrating its 5th year in October 2008, Limpopo-Lipadi is proud to be part of such a growing nation whose aims for sustainable development are of the utmost importance.
“The Limpopo-Lipadi project perfectly represents the type of intelligent, improving and enabling eco-responsible tourism investment project that the government of Botswana is encouraging” says Alan. “At its core the project offers those with a keen interest in the nation, its wildlife and in augmenting the lives of the local people a chance to make a real difference. Independence Day in Botswana means more than just separation from Britain; it’s about celebrating the progress that Botswana has made over the last 42 years.”
Alan goes onto say: “The future continues to look bright for Botswana as 10 years since the launch of Vision 2016, a strategy to propel its socio-economic and political development into a competitive, winning and prosperous nation, it has seen the nation make an imprint on world market reports that is set for longevity.”
The Limpopo-Lipadi reserve covers some 32,450 ha with the view to enlarging to 50,000+ ha. It has 6 lodge sites planned for full completion by December 2009 and has 21km of Limpopo river frontage. Investors have the opportunity to be involved with the entire project, from the study of eco systems to training to become a game ranger and the time the team have dedicated to making sure this project is rooted in the ethics of the country is reflected in their long term business plan.
There are different levels of investment involvement that you can commit to – from a purely financial point of view, entry level investment is $195,000, but in terms of the difference that you can practically make and the benefits that you can personally witness and enjoy, they are limitless. For more information visit www.limpopo-lipadi.com or call 0871 244 5152.