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Risks facing Botswana: Unemployment, Water Crises and Cyber attacks

A whitepaper published by the World Economic Forum, titled “The Sub-Saharan Africa Risks Landscape” outlined risks facing the Sub-Saharan Africa region with Botswana’s main risks being Unemployment, Water Crises as well as Cyber Attacks.

The report, published last week reveals that global risks increases as sub-Saharan Africa faces additional risks to its regional economy. Adding to the three aforementioned risks faced by Botswana, the two other risks include ‘failure of regional and global governance’ as well as ‘failure of national governance.’

The report is informed by the studies conducted by the WEF, through the 2018 Executive Opinion Survey, in which executives in 22 out of 34 countries in sub-Saharan Africa identified “unemployment and underemployment” as the most pressing concern for businesses. “No other region surveyed by the Forum recorded this level of consensus among respondents – highlighting the profound challenges that the region faces on this issue, particularly in light of the demographic and technological changes that lie ahead,” said the report. 

According to the International Labour Organization, the unemployment rate in sub-Saharan Africa is 6 percent, but the report noted that this figure masks deep-seated problems as more than 70 percent of the region’s workers are in vulnerable employment – compared to a global average of 46 percent. “People in sub-Saharan Africa are still disproportionately likely to enter the labour market at a young age, and the region has the world’s lowest levels of access to higher education – a combination that is likely to perpetuate a cycle of low skills and working poverty,” noted the report.

“Yet, despite these risks, there are some positive trends. Economic and social conditions have improved over the past 20 years, with real per capita incomes rising 50 percent on average.  Moreover, Africa’s population of young people is expected to double to approximately 830 million by 2050 – representing 29% of the total world youth population – a trend that could open new economic opportunities for the continent.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), “While 10 to 12 million youth in Africa enter the workforce each year, only 3.1 million jobs are created, leaving vast numbers of youth unemployed,” the report observed. One hurdle for economic growth on the continent – and the future employment of Africa’s current younger generation – is the challenging state of its infrastructure. According to the AfDB, there simply is not sufficient “infrastructure in power, water and transport services that would allow firms to thrive.”

The AfBD calculations estimate “that the continent’s infrastructure needs amount to $130– $170 billion a year, with a financing gap in the range $67.6–$107.5 billion.” The World Bank estimates that the continent’s infrastructure gap reduces productivity by approximately 40 percent.
 The report stated that, business leaders in sub-Saharan Africa surveyed by the Forum ranked “failure of critical infrastructure” as the fourth leading risk to business in the region.

According to the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa, out of a total of $81.6 billion committed to infrastructure development in Africa in 2017, 42 percent was from governments, 24 percent from China and 24 percent from bilateral donors, multilateral agencies and African institutions. Just 3 percent of investment came from the private sector.

 The upcoming implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – which will create the largest single market in the world for goods and services, as well as the free movement of investments and people – makes the need for investing in proper infrastructure even more pronounced, the reported said.  “One reason for the challenge around infrastructure investment is a mixed fiscal picture on the continent. The region’s GDP is expected to grow at 3.8 percent in 2019 – an improvement over the 2.6 percent rate of 2018,” the report indicated.

“The aggregate growth rate for the region would be higher – 5.7 percent – if Angola, Nigeria and South Africa, which are growing collectively at an average of 2.5 percent and are the region’s largest economies, were excluded. However, according to the Brookings Institution, “The number of African countries at high risk or in debt distress has more than doubled from eight in 2013 to 18 in 2018”; and almost 40 percent of sub-Saharan African countries are at risk of slipping into a major debt crisis.

The region’s debt-to-GDP ratio has increased significantly over the past decade (from 23 percent in 2008 to 46% in 2017), and the high proportion of public borrowing creates conditions for potential future debt crises and limits policy-makers’ short-term flexibility: The IMF and the AfDB have already noted that rising debt-servicing costs are diverting public spending from investment.

The Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey reflected concern about these risks, with business leaders ranking “fiscal crises” as the fifth highest risk. Four countries ranked it in the top three risks (Burundi, Chad, Eswatini and Namibia). Thus, it is likely that debt-servicing demands will create pressures for government policy-makers to increase taxation and reduce public spending, including on development priorities such as health or education.

In addition, governments may choose to take out loans to pay off existing debt. Such measures would make it more difficult for the region to achieve the African Union’s Agenda 2063 targets, according to the report. Executives in sub-Saharan Africa ranked “failure of national governance” as the second leading risk to business. “This may not be surprising given recent political developments across the continent,” report said.

According to the Brookings Institution, “Since the beginning of 2015, Africa has experienced more than 27 leadership changes, highlighting the continent-wide push for greater accountability and democracy.” In 2018, 15 African countries held general elections, and in 2019 at least 20 nations are holding elections.

Top 10 risks for doing business in sub-Saharan Africa
1 Unemployment or underemployment
2 Failure of national governance
3 Energy price shock
4 Failure of critical infrastructure
5 Fiscal crises
6 Failure of financial mechanism or institution
7 Failure of regional and global governance
8 Water crises
9 Food crises
10 Unmanageable inflation

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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