Entrepreneurs in Botswana
The Parliamentary Republic of Botswana declared its independence from the United Kingdom on September 30, 1966. With a population as of 2003 of 1,573,267 Botswana has great potential for accelerated entrepreneurship. The GDP per capita is 15,800.
Since independence, Botswana has had the fastest growth in per capita income in the world. Economic growth averaged over 9% per year from 1966 to 1999. Much of that is due to the stockpiling of foreign exchange reserves and most of the impressive economic record has been built on revenue generated from diamond mining to fuel economic development. The economy, closely tied to South Africa’s, is dominated by mining, especially diamonds, cattle, and tourism. Some going concerns of the country are that it is the second highest HIV infection rate in the world after Swaziland, and that it is heavily reliant on mining for economic stability.
Botswana is seeking to further diversify its economy away from minerals, and tourism and entrepreneurship may play an important role in this. The government welcomes this. The national language is English and the Batswana further wish to entice foreign investment and business. As of 1999, Botswana abolished foreign exchange controls and has lowered the corporate tax rate to 15%. They also have no prohibitions on foreign ownership of companies, and will develop plans to further advance their competitiveness on a global scale. Some U.S. companies that are prevalent in the country are H.J. Heinz and AON Corporation, as well as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Remax.
Globalization will be necessary in order for Botswana to become a stronger economic and entrepreneurial force. Currently 70% of Botswana’s electricity is imported from South Africa. Botswana will need direct foreign investment in order to grow further.
Economic freedom has flourished under a contemporary multi-party democracy, which has promoted entrepreneurship through domestic and international educational and training programs for Botswana’s citizens. Although the majority of Botswana’s income is from mining, the entrepreneurship push is allowing areas such as construction and technical fields to be explored.