In many ways, Botswana is an exceptional nation. It is Africa’s oldest democracy, one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, and one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. It is the likely birthplace of modern humans, and home to rolling grassland and savannah, imposing desert, and rich waterways. It is also home to an increasing number of exceptional businesses.
Since its first democratic elections in 1966, Botswana has transformed itself into a thriving upper-middle-income country. Until the turn of the last century economic growth was astonishing, averaging over 9 percent per year, and it remains impressive today, with growth forecast at 4.3 percent in 2022. As a result, Botswana’s population enjoys one of the highest GDPs per capita in sub-Saharan Africa. This growth, is, increasingly, inclusive. According to Mastercard's Index of Women Entrepreneurs, Botswana has the world’s highest percentage of female business owners.
Botswana’s economy, for decades being dependent almost exclusively on diamonds, is gradually starting to diversify. This diversification is thanks in part to a concerted government effort to wean the country off diamonds, and to build an educational system that will support Botswana’s evolution as a leader in innovation, research, and scientific development.
Botswana invests 21 percent of its budget in education and has increased its adult literacy rate from 69 percent in 1991 to 83 percent in 2008. More recently it has set up hubs in six sectors: agriculture, diamonds, innovation, transport, health, and education, to establish centres of excellence and enhance the capacity of its workforce. As a result of this investment and focus on academic development, Botswana has one of the highest researcher densities in sub-Saharan Africa.
Today, Botswana is home to fast-growing financial services, telecommunication, retail, creative and tourism industries. Mining other than diamonds has also grown, with exciting prospects for access to several scarce mineral resources reported.
A transparent, predictable policy landscape, independent judiciary, and business-friendly regulations mean that international companies are increasingly looking to invest in the country. They are attracted by Botswana’s rich human and natural capital, its political stability and enviable sovereign credit rating, its reasonable taxation regime and excellent transport infrastructure, amongst other reasons.
Botswana companies, buoyed by local success and opportunities abroad, are also increasingly looking to expand. Choppies Enterprises Limited, the grocery and general merchandise retailer, is exemplary in this regard, having successfully opened stores and logistics networks in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Kenya. As Botswana continues to diversify and integrate with regional and overseas markets, more multinational businesses will inevitably follow.
Laying a firm foundation for international expansion, with a corresponding strategic approach to reputation management and stakeholder relations, can help prospective multinationals avoid many of the pitfalls that have stopped promising companies in the past.
To expand across a continent, partnerships need to be forged across a disparate set of geographies and operating conditions. There is also the expectation that multinationals will support local employment, industries and value chains. This requires specialised communications competencies in terms of working with governments, regulators, media and communities.
As a leading corporate communication firm originating in South Africa but increasingly involved in opportunities across the continent, Aprio is excited by the potential and promise of Botswana and its companies. We have recently opened Aprio Arm Botswana, which has a dedicated office in Gaborone and look forward to providing strategic counsel, communication support, and ensuring that your reputational and communications objectives are achieved seamlessly and effectively at continental scale.
( www.aprioarm.co.bw www.aprio.co.za)