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close this bookGATE - 4/93 - Botswana: Rural Industrial Development (GTZ GATE, 1993, 48 p.)
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View the documentHow to initiate rural industrial development
View the documentRepublic of Botswana
View the documentPoverty and profits: The Work of RIPCO
View the documentSmall industry promotion in hard times: The Work of RIIC
View the documentMaximizing rural industrialization
View the documentAn innovation benefits women: The Sorghum Milling Project

Republic of Botswana

Botswana attained self government in 1965 and became an independent republic on 30th September 1966 after 80 years as a British protectorate.

The constitution has established a non-racia multiparty democracy which maintains freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of association, and affords all citizens equal rights. It also provides for a unicameral legislature, the National Assembly. All citizens from 21 years can vote. The he ad of the party that wins the elections becomes the de jure head of state and elects his cabinet ministers from his parliamentarians in the National Assembly. The President (presently Sir Ketumile Masire) is the executive head of government and presides over the cabinet.

In addition to the National Assembly, there is a House of Chiefs which provides advice on matters affecting custom and tradition. There is also an independent judiciary with a High Court presided over by a Chief Justice.

Administrative structure
The capital of Botswana is Gaborone. Central Government is represented in each district through a district administration headed by the District Commissioner, while local government in district and town councils is each headed by a Council Secretary and Town Clerk respectively. District and town councils have elected councillors, but the Minister of Local Government, Lands and Housing may nominate additional councillors.

Geographical scenario

Botswana is a landlocked country which straddles the Tropic of Capricorn in the centre of the Southern Plateau. The mean altitude above sea level is approximately 1000 metres and the country’s total land area is 582,000 square kilometres - about the size of Kenya in East Africa and Texas in the United States of America. Botswana shares the border with Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Zambia.

Much of the country is flat, with gentle undulations and occasional rocky outcrops. In the north-west features the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi pans in the central north-east, and the Limpopo Valley at its confluence with the Shashe River in the east. Most of Batswana ("the people of Botswana", editor's remark) live in the eastern part of the country because it is favourable to crop production.

The rest of the country is covered with thick sand layers of the Kgalagadi Desert, which accounts for two-thirds of Botswana's land area. The sand cover is up to 120 metres deep. Although with almost complete absence of surface water, the Kgalagadi Desert supports a vegetation of shrub and grasses.


The country's climate is largely semi-arid due to its closeness to the subtropical high pressure belt of the southern hemisphere. Mean rainfall ranges from 650 mm in the east to less than 250 mm in the south. Rainfall occurrences occupy October through April with dry spells from May through September.


A single track railway line connects Botswana with the South African and Zimbabwean rail systems and with the sea ports. The main highways are asphalted.

Regular air services converge on Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, and thereafter connect with major international airports in the SADC region, South Africa and Kenya, as well as London and Paris. Internal air services are maintained between major cities and Maun in the north west district, the gateway to the Okavango Delta.

Botswana has international telecommunications links through an earth station at Gaborone, as well as via South Africa. Microwave links have been established between Gaborone and South Africa and between Francistown and Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

The People

With a cosmopolitan population common to many countries of the world, most of Botswana's citizens however, are members of the Setswana speaking tribes or clans. The official languages are Setswana and English, the latter being predominantly used in business.

National population census is conducted every ten years. From 650 000 people during the first census in 1971, Botswana's population reached just over 1.3 million in 1991, representing an annual growth rate of 3.5%.

Natural Resources

Botswana's main natural resources include range and arable land, rich wildlife habitats with large animal populations supporting the tourist sector, and a variety of known and promising occurrences of minerals.

The livestock sector, one time the backbone of the country's economy, has now been overtaken by the mineral industry, principally the diamond sector. Other mineral resources include copper nickel, coal, and soda ash. Further mineral exploration is being substantially constrained by remoteness, the thickness of the Kgalagadi sand and the high cost of supporting the infrastructure.


The 25 years since independence in 1966 have witnessed remarkable economic transformation in almost all sectors of the economy including water development and reticulation, roads, health, education, banking, housing etc.

It is estimated that GDP in real terms has averaged around 13% per annum over the post independence period. Real GDP per capita (based on de facto population) was about eight times higher in 1988/1989 than in 1966. Despite Botswana's success in real terms 51% of Botswana live below Poverty Datum Line.

The remarkable economic development has also resulted in the expansion of formal sector employment, which has averaged 9% since independence, in which the private sector has equally played a dynamic role.

The national capacity to maintain this economic momentum has since the early 1980s been vitiated by periodic droughts and insufficient turnover from the mineral sector occasioned by the international economic recession. Consequently, the government has continued to place increased emphasis on economic diversification m order to increase the national capacity to generate spin-offs necessary for economic development, in all sectors of the economy.

Organizations such as the Rural Industries Promotions Company (Botswana), have played an essential complementary role towards the realization of economic diversification through the development and dissemination of industries in rural areas.

Jackson Maleke