Vision 2036 seeks to transform Botswana from a mid-income to a high-income country by the Year 2036. The country finds itself trapped in the Middle-Income status, attained in the 1990’s before many African countries could achieve the feat. “The transition to high-income status requires us to introspect and be bold in charting our way forward. We need to put in place conditions that will allow dynamic transformation” (Vision 2036, p11).
The transformation to high-income status will be anchored on the transition from a resource to a knowledge-based economy. According to the World Bank, ‘knowledge economies’ are defined by institutional structures that provide incentives for entrepreneurship and the use of knowledge; skilled labour availability and good education systems; ICT infrastructure and access; and finally, a vibrant innovation landscape that includes academia, the private sector and civil society.
Botswana has laid out plans for transformation to a knowledge economy, i.e. in providing for good education systems, the country has developed the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP), and is also finalising the National Human Resource Development Plan. On ICT infrastructure, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) and Botswana Fibre Network (BofINET) have since been established to champion same ICT infrastructure and access.
On the innovation landscape, the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH), Botswana Institute for Technology, Research and Innovation (BITRI), Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), etc. have been set up to champion the transformation. All these should be looked at within the context and the centrality of their contribution to the high-income status.
The transformation to a high-income status entails accurately putting together pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, namely Infrastructure, Doing Business and Competitiveness, Human Capital, ICT Infrastructure and access, etc. Infrastructural development alone without the complement of Doing Business and Competitiveness support will not produce the desired results, nor will Infrastructural Development and Infrastructure lead to the desired results without the backing and support of thriving Human Capital.
Whilst human capital, driven by knowledge is key in raising the returns on investment, by stimulating more efficient methods of production organisation and as well stimulating new and improved products and services, human capital alone without the intrinsic support of others will not lead to the desired outcome of transformation from mid-income to high-income. ICT comes in as a bedrock and foundation as the world transits to the 4th Industrial Revolution.
We must therefore, as a matter of urgency take deliberate steps to overhaul the current economic growth model as highlighted in Vision 2036. The economic growth model is not in harmony with the radical economic transformation intended in Vision 2036. The growth model served the country well against adverse effects of the global economic downturn. Despite the stability, and modest growth, the model comes with a baggage, i.e. high unemployment rate especially amongst the youth, low productivity, unsustainably high public spending, etc.
There is however optimism, with His Excellency the President Dr MEK Masisi taking the button against the backdrop of a relatively strong performance in a number of areas. The Country has maintained high overall rankings in Africa i.e. 3rd in sub-Saharan Africa on the UNDP Human Development Index, 3rd overall out of 54 African countries, in the 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) with a score of 72.7 etc. Furthermore Botswana has experienced the doubling of per capita gross national income to US$ 7 058 in 2014.
HE the President Dr MEK Masisi is on a renewed path to attract Foreign Direct Investment, pushing to the limit the reform agenda aimed at facilitating and motivating investors’ passion into doing business in Botswana. This past week, HE the President attended the World Investment Forum 2018 hosted by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, seeking to promote Botswana as an investment destination.
Whilst in Geneva, HE Dr MEK Masisi met with the Secretary General of WIPO, as well with the Geneva Chamber of Commerce. He also held meetings with Mr Michael Reybier, owner of La Reserve Hotel to discuss among others, interest of the Reybier Group in the hospitality business in Botswana. The President also attended the Botswana Tourism, Investment and Cultural night, once more sending a clear message that attracting FDI remains one of his key priorities. This drive by HE will positively “grow Botswana’s population” as empirical evidence tells us that the population size is a key determinant of FDI inflows.
Marija PetroviÄ‡-RanÄ‘eloviÄ‡, Vesna JankoviÄ‡-MiliÄ‡, Ivana KostadinoviÄ‡ of the University of Niš, Faculty of Economics, Serbia undertook studies to examine the impact of foreign direct investment inflows in the Western Balkans countries in the period 2007-2015. Their results show that the highest relative impact on the foreign direct investment inflows was recorded for variable population size (beta coefficient is 0.569); whereas, statistically significant impact on the foreign direct investment inflows was recorded for market size and market growth (significance Ë‚0,001 and Ë‚0,015, respectively). These studies tell us that with a population of a little over 2 million, Botswana finds itself at crossroads, in a bid to attract FDI inflows.
But it is not all doom and gloom because other Countries with the population size less than, equal to and slightly more than Botswana have done it. The fundamental is to learn how they achieved the feat and adapt to our circumstances. This is not in any way suggestive that we should swallow the ‘hook, line and sinker’ in our learning journey.
In our learning journey, Journalist and author Daniel Brook, tells us that “96 percent of Dubai’s population is ‘foreign born’, Dubai makes even New York City’s diversity — 37 percent of New Yorkers are immigrants — seem mundane. As a pair of American observers put it, Dubai is a city where “everyone and everything in it — its luxuries, laborers, architects, accents, even its aspirations — was flown in from someplace else.”
Daniel Brook characterises the growth as orchestrated in the following manner: “that in 1974, Sheikh Rashid tasked the young Mohammed with overseeing the growth of Dubai International Airport. In the 1980s, Mohammed tapped British Airways veteran Maurice Flanagan to launch Emirates airline, which would become an archetype of the Dubai model: A state-owned company managed by Western experts that would thrive in open international competition”.
He goes on: “By 1990, Emirates was flying to major hubs like London, Frankfurt and Singapore, taking advantage of the fact that most of the world’s population lives within a reasonable flying time of the city-state. As Emirates grew, it became a kind of octopus, grabbing ever more far-flung parts of the world and drawing them to Dubai. Lured by the prospect of tax-free salaries, some of the international businessmen who visited, stayed”.
“In 2002, Mohammed issued a land reform decree allowing foreigners to own real estate in Dubai — a first in any Gulf state. Before the reforms, Dubai had no real estate market. Land was given out under a quasi-feudal system; all land was held by the sheikhs or by favored Emirati friends upon whom the sheikhs had bestowed parcels. Everyone else — including every foreigner — was a renter. With the 2002 reform, anyone could buy a home in Dubai”.
We can thus draw a no of lessons to assist us in our endeavour to drive towards high-income. The first lesson is that population increase can be attained by bringing in the ‘foreign born’ as 96% of Dubai population is the ‘foreign born’. Through radical mind-set transformation, we need to acknowledge this reality which would in turn assist us in meeting the challenges associated with population size (the highest relative impact on the foreign direct investment inflows was recorded for variable population size (beta coefficient is 0.569).
Attracting FDI means Investors should be able to land in the country with relative ease, hence the necessity to introduce ‘Emirates Airline’ equivalent. As a priority, we need to, significantly revamp our air-transportation, both the Airline and the Airport. We could take a leaf from the Dubai model: “A state-owned company managed by Western experts that would thrive in open international competition”. This model of outsourcing the National Airline and building of the Iconic ‘International Airport’, (a design that is ‘ground breaking’ and one that sets new standards) will ensure that the Country reduces the unsustainably high public spending. The said Iconic International Airport will furthermore critically power one of the key priority areas for growing the economy, being the Tourism Sector.
The other lesson is that we should reform our tax system. As highlighted, in the Dubai experience, their ‘foreign born’ were lured by the prospect of tax-free salaries. The need for Land Reform is also one of the critical lessons to learn, as land pushes estate development, including the drive for Mega and outstanding iconic structures. Notwithstanding, we have had tax reforms as well as land reforms, but the impact of such in the transformation agenda to high income status has not paid much dividends. There is therefore need for radical approaches on the said, beyond what currently obtains. All entities, Public, Parastatals, the Private Sector etc. must see themselves as a part of the greater jigsaw puzzle.
HRDC’s contribution amongst others in this jigsaw puzzle, is through the development and operationalisation of National Labour Market Observatory and Information Management System that will be a one-stop-shop for employment/unemployment trends, rate of skill-job vacancy mismatches, educational attainment, as well as sector-employment-intensity, among others, to facilitate both local and foreign investors to determine availability of relevant skills. HRDC is also working with Local institutions and Industry to develop market responsive and internationally competitive programmes.
In conclusion, the views expressed in the Vision 2036 Preamble says it all: “We must take deliberate steps to overhaul the current economic growth model, moving away from resource-driven growth, to growth based on high productivity, innovation and competitiveness”. Business as usual is no longer an option.
This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.
The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.
The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.
Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.
We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.
More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.
The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the market.
Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.
We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?
Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?
Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?
They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?
What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?
They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?
We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?
To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?
Batswana must be made aware that the end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.
For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with the arduous imperative of analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.
Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.
Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute in Botswana is overdue.
If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.
Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.
Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.
Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication
Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.
Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.
Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.
The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.
So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.
The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.
We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.
They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.
As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.
Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme. WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org
The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.
As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.
I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.
I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?
Counting the cost of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.
It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.
Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.
The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.
Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.
By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.
Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org