A study released this week shows that Batswana youths and women top the unemployment statistics in Botswana. The general unemployment rate currently stands at 17%. The findings indicate that in terms of gender, being male as opposed to female increases the probability for employment relative to unemployment.
The study, which is titled “determinants of Youth Unemployment and Labour Market Transitions of the Youth in Botswana” was conducted by the University of Botswana (UB) renowned academics Professor Happy Siphambe in collaboration with Dr. Malebogo Bakwena, Dr. Lexi Setlhare and few other scholars at the highest institution of learning.
The research paper further states that the youth population also tends to experience higher unemployment rates than the older population. Youth in the study were categorised, as most programmes in Botswana define youth, between the ages of 15 to 39 years. “Since young people generally have no workplace experience, which makes it difficult for them to obtain jobs,” the academics pointed out in which Gabane was used as a case study.
Thus, according to the study, younger youth are also likely than older youth to become unemployed and to be discouraged. It states that high youth unemployment rate is also a result of the high school dropout in the country. Study states that in the years 2012-2014, a total of 8,051 students even dropped out from secondary school, in which a whopping 5,031 were females. “The probability of Job losses were lower for individuals with secondary education than those with primary education,” highlights the research paper.
In Botswana, Statistics Botswana of 2016 also indicate that youth unemployment is currently estimated at 25.2% with female unemployment higher than that of males at 26.9% percent as compared to 23.6% percent for males. The new research paper fills the gap which was left by many studies that were carried out on youth unemployment and on unemployment in general in Botswana which did not examine the gross transitions and the transitions determined by individual socio-economic characteristics.
Study emphasised that “the transition probabilities from employment to unemployment for women was higher than for males at 10.2 percent and 10.8 percent respectively between the two time periods.” The transition from unemployment to employment was 17.2 and 17.9 percent respectively between the two time periods. It says the probabilities of moving out of labor force to employment increased from 2.8 percent to 3.1 percent during the study period.
“Compared to males, the labor patterns for females also show higher rates of losing employment and less opportunities of finding employment during the entire study period,” the study stressed. Moreover study explains that “the transition probabilities of EU are higher for the 15-24 age group than for 25-34 group for both periods. This may be indicative of that the older group has more education & training and/or experience to move.”
It is not clear whether it is mere chance or employers prefer older more experienced workers over younger inexperience workers, it says while adding that one could guess that these are mature people who could be having family responsibilities and could not afford to choose jobs. Economic theory explains how the aggregates of employment and unemployment are determined by the business cycle of the economy, the researchers say.
They point out that the aggregate unemployment rate may also be influenced by worker flows between different labour market states of employment, unemployment and out-of-labour market. Thus, study highlights that it is important to analyse transitions of workers among labour market states for many reasons. “One reason is that while aggregate unemployment may be due to lack of job expansions in the economy, some of the unemployment arise due to job mobility,” UB academics say.
The new study will contribute to existing literature because the researchers claim that there is no literature on labour market transitions in Botswana. Majority of the studies that employed duration models attempted to estimate the duration of unemployment, conditional on individual personal characteristics and labor market conditions experienced by individuals. While the labour market transitions of the labour force are important in explaining unemployment, the study states that the socio-economic characteristics of individuals also play an important role.
“These individual characteristics influence the flows of people into different labour market positions, which can be measured by probabilities of losing jobs and probabilities of finding new jobs,” study further says. Botswana has its share of youth unemployment which remains a global concern and most countries continue to experience increased youth unemployment and this is particularly so for African economies, most of which are currently struggling to address the problem.
According to International Labour Organisation (ILO), given the sustained upward trend in global unemployment, which has hit the youths so hard, it is likely that many of them will continue to be almost three times unemployed than the adult population, hence the need to conduct youth unemployment studies.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.