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South Africa vs Botswana: which country is the best safari destination?

Elephants

Both countries offer an exceptional safari experience with best-in-the-world lodges in pristine bushveld settings, outstanding natural beauty and rich fauna and flora. And they both boast an extraordinary region that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, namely Okavango Delta in Botswana and Kruger National Park in South Africa.

South Africa and Botswana are neighbours and compete as the premier safari destinations in southern Africa. It’s impossible to choose one over the other because both countries have so much to offer but we can tell you what you’ll trade-off when weighing South Africa up against Botswana for the safari tour of your dreams.

South Africa

South Africa offers you the iconic Kruger National Park and its exclusive neighbour, Greater Kruger. Located in the far north-eastern corner of South Africa and sharing an unfenced boundary, the two Big 5 safari regions represent the finest and most diverse biospheres in Africa.

Kruger Park is the oldest and largest national park in South Africa while Greater Kruger is an amalgamation of 18 unfenced game reserves that are privately-owned and exclusive. Familiar names include Sabi Sands, MalaMala, Londolozi, Lions Sands and Singita.

The fence between Greater Kruger and Kruger Park has been removed and the animals roam freely over an area that spans some 22 000 square kilometres. Combined, Kruger Park and Greater Kruger are core to the Kruger2Canyons (K2C) and Vhembe UNESCO Man and Biospheres and fall within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

However, you’re not limited to visiting Kruger Park or Greater Kruger in the far north corner of the country. South Africa has 21 national parks and a wide choice of topnotch private game reserves. Familiar names include Pilanesberg, Madikwe, Addo Elephant, Phinda and Hluhluwe Imfolozi. The beauty of these safari destinations is they’re located in malaria-free areas in South Africa.

Botswana

Okavango Delta needs no introduction. The magical wetland region is Botswana’s flagship safari destination and possibly the most magnificent place to visit in Africa. It’s one of the world’s largest inland deltas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.

The vast wetland lies on a tectonic trough in the parched Kalahari Basin where the Okavango River empties onto the vast savanna plains. Annual flooding increases the size of the inland delta to three times its size and transforms the region into a lush tropical haven, attracting an abundance of animals and migrant birds which are best viewed from a river canoe silently paddling down the narrow channels.

Botswana has a lot more to offer than Okavango Delta. It has some of the finest protected ecosystems in southern Africa; each an oasis so diverse that travellers return year after year for new experiences in the wild and untamed corners of the country. Familiar names include Chobe, Moremi, Savuti, Linyanti, Kgalagadi and Makgadikgadi Pans.

South Africa versus Botswana: which offers the best safari experience

South Africa offers a more commercial, tourist-friendly safari experience with a wider choice of accommodation for all safari budgets. Greater Kruger and the private concessions in Kruger Park unashameably target the top-end safari market but there’s more than enough to choose from for comfortable accommodation that doesn’t deplete your credit card.

Safari destinations in South Africa are all within easy commuting distance from the big cities. You have the option of self-drive safari tours which are family-friendly and help to keep costs down; otherwise choose a reputable tour operator who offers first-rate safari tours at a price that’s affordable on the current exchange rate.

A safari tour to South Africa can be combined with a tour of Cape Town and the glorious Garden Route where breathtaking scenery, rich cultural heritage and excellent wine and gourmet meals beckon. Or head east to KwaZulu Natal for beautiful beaches, splendid mountains and outdoor living at its best.

Botswana attracts a more adventurous traveller with a bigger budget. You’ll find a selection of bush camps and campsites suitable for the cost-conscious traveller but on the whole, Botswana is a more expensive choice. The trade-off is an incomparable safari experience that’s worth every cent.

Botswana’s sought-after safari destinations are located in remote areas that are wild and untamed, and harder to get to than those in South Africa. Getting to your safari lodge in Botswana typically involves an international flight to Johannesburg and another to Maun and then a fly-in/fly-out charter flight. The benefit is lower tourist numbers and thus, less habituated wildlife.

Unlike South Africa, the safari regions in Botswana are unfenced and game migrates freely across the vast savanna plains. The remote, rugged areas coupled with low tourist numbers offers travellers a more authentic safari experience that’s hard to beat anywhere else in southern Africa.

So, to answer the question; which country offers the best safari experience? South Africa and Botswana come tie because they both boast the finest wilderness regions, incredible wildlife and birding as well as outstanding safari facilities. You’ll have to try both and decide for yourself.

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P230 million Phikwe revival project kicks off

19th October 2020
industrial hub

Marcian Concepts have been contracted by Selibe Phikwe Economic Unit (SPEDU) in a P230 million project to raise the town from its ghost status.  The project is in the design and building phase of building an industrial hub for Phikwe; putting together an infrastructure in Bolelanoto and Senwelo industrial sites.

This project comes as a life-raft for Selibe Phikwe, a town which was turned into a ghost town when the area’s economic mainstay, BCL mine, closed four years ago.  In that catastrophe, 5000 people lost their livelihoods as the town’s life sunk into a gloomy horizon. Businesses were closed and some migrated to better places as industrial places and malls became almost empty.

However, SPEDU has now started plans to breathe life into the town. Information reaching this publication is that Marcian Concepts is now on the ground at Bolelanoto and Senwelo and works have commenced.  Marcian as a contractor already promises to hire Phikwe locals only, even subcontract only companies from the area as a way to empower the place’s economy.

The procurement method for the tender is Open Domestic bidding which means Joint Ventures with foreign companies is not allowed. According to Marcian Concepts General Manager, Andre Strydom, in an interview with this publication, the project will come with 150 to 200 jobs. The project is expected to take 15 months at a tune of P230 531 402. 76. Marcian will put together construction of roadworks, storm-water drains, water reticulation, street lighting and telecommunication infrastructure. This tender was flouted last year August, but was awarded in June this year. This project is seen as the beginning of Phikwe’s revival and investors will be targeted to the area after the town has worn the ghost city status for almost half a decade.

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IMF projects deeper recession for 2020, slow recovery for 2021

19th October 2020

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has slashed its outlook the world economy projecting a significantly deeper recession and slower recovery than it anticipated just two months ago.

On Wednesday when delivering its World Economic Outlook report titled “A long difficult Ascent” the Washington Based global lender said it now expects global gross domestic product to shrink 4.9% this year, more than the 3% predicted in April.  For 2021, IMF experts have projected growth of 5.4%, down from 5.8%. “We are projecting a somewhat less severe though still deep recession in 2020, relative to our June forecast,” said Gita Gopinath Economic Counsellor and Director of Research.

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Botswana partly closed economy a further blow of 4.2 fall in revenue

19th October 2020

The struggle of humanity is now how to dribble past the ‘Great Pandemic’ in order to salvage a lean economic score. Botswana is already working on dwindling fiscal accounts, budget deficit, threatened foreign reserves and the GDP data that is screaming recession.

Latest data by think tank and renowned rating agency, Moody’s Investor Service, is that Botswana’s fiscal status is on the red and it is mostly because of its mineral-dependency garment and tourism-related taxation. Botswana decided to close borders as one of the containment measures of Covid-19; trade and travellers have been locked out of the country. Moody’s also acknowledges that closing borders by countries like Botswana results in the collapse of tourism which will also indirectly weigh on revenue through lower import duties, VAT receipts and other taxes.

Latest economic data shows that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2020 with a decrease of 27 percent. One of the factors that led to contraction of the local economy is the suspension of air travel occasioned by COVID-19 containment measures impacted on the number of tourists entering through the country’s borders and hence affecting the output of the hotels and restaurants industry. This will also be weighed down by, according to Moody’s, emerging markets which will see government losing average revenue worth 2.1 percentage points (pps) of GDP in 2020, exceeding the 1.0 pps loss in advanced economies (AEs).

“Fiscal revenue in emerging markets is particularly vulnerable to this current crisis because of concentrated revenue structures and less sophisticated tax administrations than those in AEs. Oil exporters will see the largest falls but revenue volatility is a common feature of their credit profiles historically,” says Moody’s. The domino effects of containment measures could be seen cracking all sectors of the local economy as taxes from outside were locked out by the closure of borders hence dwindling tax revenue.

Moody’s has placed Botswana among oil importers, small, tourism-reliant economies which will see the largest fall in revenue. Botswana is in the top 10 of that pecking order where Moody’s pointed out recently that other resource-rich countries like Botswana (A2 negative) will also face a large drop in fiscal revenue.

This situation of countries’ revenue on the red is going to stay stubborn for a long run. Moody’s predicts that the spending pressures faced by governments across the globe are unlikely to ease in the short term, particularly because this crisis has emphasized the social role governments perform in areas like healthcare and labour markets.

For countries like Botswana, these spending pressures are generally exacerbated by a range of other factors like a higher interest burden, infrastructure deficiencies, weaker broader public sector, higher subsidies, lower incomes and more precarious employment. As a result, most of the burden for any fiscal consolidation is likely to fall on the revenue side, says Moody’s.

Moody’s then moves to the revenue spin of taxation. The rating agency looked at the likelihood and probability of sovereigns to raise up revenue by increasing tax to offset what was lost in mineral revenue and tourism-related tax revenue. Moody’s said the capacity to raise tax revenue distinguishes governments from other debt issuers.  “In theory, governments can change a given tax system as they wish, subject to the relevant legislative process and within the constraints of international law. In practice, however, there are material constraints,” says Moody’s.

‘‘The coronavirus crisis will lead to long-lasting revenue losses for emerging market sovereigns because their ability to implement and enforce effective revenue-raising measures in response will be an important credit driver over the next few years because of their sizeable spending pressures and the subdued recovery in the global economy we expect next year.’’

According to Moody’s, together with a rise in stimulus and healthcare spending related to the crisis, the think tank expects this drop in revenue will trigger a sizeable fiscal deterioration across emerging market sovereigns. Most countries, including Botswana, are under pressure of widening their tax bases, Moody’s says that this will be challenging. “Even if governments reversed or do not extend tax-easing measures implemented in 2020 to support the economy through the coronavirus shock, which would be politically challenging, this would only provide a modest boost to revenue, especially as these measures were relatively modest in most emerging markets,” says Moody’s.

Botswana has been seen internationally as a ‘tax ease’ country and its taxes are seen as lower when compared to its regional counterparts. This country’s name has also been mentioned in various international investigative journalism tax evasion reports. In recent years there was a division of opinions over whether this country can stretch its tax base. But like other sovereigns who have tried but struggled to increase or even maintain their tax intake before the crisis, Botswana will face additional challenges, according to Moody’s.

“Additional measures to reduce tax evasion and cutting tax expenditure should support the recovery in government revenue, albeit from low levels,” advised Moody’s. Botswana’s tax revenue to the percentage of the GDP was 27 percent in 2008, dropped to 23 percent in 2010 to 23 percent before rising to 27 percent again in 2012. In years 2013 and 2014 the percentage went to 25 percent before it took a slip to decline in respective years of 2015 up to now where it is at 19.8 percent.

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