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Botswana Vision 2036 a pipeline dream – World Bank

Realising a ‘prosperity for all’ goal by 2036 could be another wild-goose chase for opulence like Vision 2016 if the latest publication by the World Bank is anything to go by.

The World Bank’s biennial “Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report; Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle” has forecasted that by 2030 Sub-Sahara Africa including Botswana will still be struggling to wipe out poverty-this is six years before Botswana’s Vision of 2036 where this country is set to achieve the “Prosperity for All” status. According to economists, social commentators and politicians, Botswana failed to achieve its previous goal of Vision 2016-the World Bank paints a gloomy picture for the Vision 2036 goal.

World Bank indicates that by 2030, the world is expected to have wiped out extreme poverty except for Sub-Saharan Africa—where over 25 percent of the population will be living on less than $1.90 a day. Despite forecasting that extreme poverty would still be in double digits in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030, the forecasts indicate that the world would need to grow at an unusual strong pace in order to meet the 3 percent target.

The World Bank also advises that the target would be met if all countries grow at an average annual rate of 6 percent and the income of the bottom 40 grows 2 percentage points faster than the average. Alternatively, the landmark could be reached if all countries grow at an average pace of 8 percent according to the World Bank.

The World Bank Group has set two goals for the world to achieve by 2030: To end extreme poverty by decreasing the percentage of people living on less than $1.90 a day to no more than 3 percent and to remote shared prosperity by fostering the income growth of the bottom 40 percent for every country. These goals coincides with Botswana’s Vision 2036 where Botswana is expected to achieve a high income economy and where they will be ‘prosperity for all.’

When adding his comment on the “Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle,” the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said: “Poverty is on the rise in several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in fragile and conflict-affected states. In many countries, the bottom 40 percent of the population is getting left behind; in some countries, the living standard of the poorest 40 percent is actually declining. To reach our goal of bringing extreme poverty below 3 percent by 2030, the world’s poorest countries must grow at a rate that far surpasses their historical experience.

There is no room for complacency. We must intensify the effort to promote economic growth in the lagging countries and ensure that the poorest 40 percent of the population benefits more from economic progress.” A startling revelation from the latest World Bank publication is that 3.4 billion people still struggles to meet basic needs-living on less than $5.50 a day. The World Bank has concluded that nearly half the population lives on less than $5.50 a day.  

According to the World Bank, living on less than $3.20 per day reflects poverty lines in lower-middle-income countries, while $5.50 a day reflects standards in upper-middle-income countries. The World Bank has a commitment to achieve the goal of ending extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day, by 2030.  “Over 1.9 billion people, or 26.2 percent of the world’s population, were living on less than $3.20 per day in 2015. Close to 46 percent of the world’s population was living on less than $5.50 a day,” the World Bank said.

According to the 2015 Botswana Poverty Assessment report by World Bank, Batswana are living in extreme poverty and nearly half of them are children. Most of them remain poor or at risk for falling back into poverty, according to the World Bank report. On a high note, the 2015 Botswana Poverty Assessment also found that poverty declined from 30.6% to 19.4% between 2002-2010, particularly in rural areas, due to increased labour and agriculture-related incomes and more opportunities for the poor. This resulted in 180,000 people being lifted from poverty, 87 percent of which live in rural areas, the report says.

Other research from the World Economic Forum shows that Botswana is among the most unequal countries in the world, contributing to scepticism on attaining its Vision. In this year’s Global Competitiveness Report Botswana scored 60.5 in Income Gini. The Gini index of 0 represents perfect equality, while an index of 100 implies perfect inequality.  Currently Botswana is the fourth most unequal in the world after Haiti, Namibia and South Africa.

According to the World Bank, Botswana and other Sub-Saharan countries Africa now account for most of the world’s poor, and unlike most of the rest of the world the total number of poor there is increasing.  The World Bank says this is due to conflict and weak institutions, and a lack of success in channelling growth into poverty reduction.  The World Bank further states that extreme poverty is increasingly becoming a Sub-Saharan African problem.

African countries have struggled partly because of their high reliance on extractive industries that have weaker ties to the incomes of the poor, the prevalence of conflict, and their vulnerability to natural disasters such as droughts, according to World Bank. The 2016 Macro poverty outlook for Botswana by the World Bank highlighted this country’s risks and challenges sees Botswana as heavily dependent on commodity exports and public sector activity and will remain exposed to external shocks.

This country is highly reliant on extractive industries, especially diamond mining. “Therefore, a key risk facing the economic outlook arises from potentially slower than expected recovery of global demand for commodities including diamonds. For example, a slowdown in major economies, would further constrain diamond and other commodity production, with spill over effects across government revenues and exports. In the medium-term, structural reforms remain critical for managing volatility and sustainability risks such as reforms in the water and energy sectors, as well as policies that address labour market distortions,” said the World Bank report on Botswana.

Sub-Saharan countries like Botswana are also said to be grappled by weak institutions according to the World Bank. In Botswana’s case it should be weak parastatals or state owned companies. The 2018 Competitiveness Report released last week saw Botswana placed at 104 out of 140 countries in the category of ‘Reliability of Water Supply.’

This means Water Utilities Corporation is failing as a nation’s water supply. The utility also bears the mandate of providing safe water but the same Global Competitiveness Report finds that Botswana is susceptible to production of unsafe water, putting it on a worst rate of 102 on the ‘Exposure to unsafe drinking water’ mini index. 

In this mini index, Botswana is better than 38 countries when it comes to production of safe water. Another weak institution which could have caught the eye of the World Bank is the Botswana Power Corporation which is mostly the reason for this country scoring number 117 out of 140 countries in the mini-index of Electrification Rate according to the recent Global Competitiveness Report. The World Bank provides analysis and advice for developing countries like Botswana. It is a source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world in order to work on poverty eradication.

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Opposition Will Never Achieve Anything- Nkaigwa

8th April 2021
Haskins Nkaigwa

Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms.  “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.

“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.

“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.

“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”

Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner.  He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.

Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.

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Botswana benefits over P100 million in grants from Japan

7th April 2021
Ambassador HOSHIYAMA

Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.

The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).

“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.

“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”

Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).

From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.

From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.

“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.

“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”

In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.

TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.

“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.

“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”

Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.

“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.

“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”

Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.

Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.

According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.

“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.

The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.

According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).

“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.

“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”

The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.

 

“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.

“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”

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Magosi pushes for Cabinet reshuffle

6th April 2021
President Masisi

Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.

The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.

This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.

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