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Facts and Figures
Fact Sheet

Botswana is a stable democracy with an excellent track record of governance since independence in 1966.

Botswana has topped the list of the world's fastest growing economies since 1965:

  • Botswana 9.2%
  • South Korea 7.3%
  • China 6.7%
  • Singapore 6.3%
  • Hong Kong 5.6% (Source; World Bank, 1998)

There are no foreign exchange controls in Botswana.

Botswana is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), an economic grouping free of tariffs that also includes South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. It is also a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and serves as the headquarters of the regional organisation that has a market of 200 million people.

There is a well-developed legal system based on Common Law, which facilitates business and commercial activities.

Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s in 2003 have given Botswana an investment grade sovereign credit rating higher than any other sub-Saharan African country.

Botswana has consistently invested a high proportion of its budget on education and skills training.

The country has a thriving domestic financial sector, which includes banks, insurance companies and a growing stock market.

Botswana has acceded to international conventions and is strictly observing internationally accepted guidelines on combating money laundering and financial crime.

Transparency International, in its Corruption Perceptions Index of 2003, rated Botswana to be the least corrupt country in Africa, and 24th least corrupt in the world.

There are 8 daily flights in either direction between Gaborone and Johannesburg – the major aviation hub on the continent. Travelling time is 1 hour.

Botswana has invested in a world-class multi-service telecommunications system that facilitates provision of services remotely.

For more information visit MTI website

Economic Indicators

GDP Per Capita Income - The GDP per capita income in nominal terms currently stands at some US $ 3500, which is one of the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. This figure places Botswana within the world’s middle-income group of countries by the World Bank ratings.

Currency - The basic unit of currency is the Pula, which is denominated in P10, P20, P50 and P100 notes. The Pula is convertible with major currencies. The currency is pegged against a basket of major currencies and is strongly tied to the South African Rand, with strong trading links between the two countries.

Exchange Controls - Botswana operates a fully liberalised exchange control regime, which gives investors doing business in the country the option to operate foreign currency bank accounts for smooth facilitation of international transactions.

Foreign Reserves - Botswana’s foreign reserves stand at around US $5.3 billion (March 2003).

Corporate Income Tax - Corporate tax is 25 percent. There is however 15% tax for manufacturing companies and financial institutions that operate under the auspices of the Botswana International Financial Services Centre.

Infrastructure

Telecommunication Services

The Botswana Telecommunications Authority regulates and licenses all telecommunications activities in Botswana.The sector is currently undergoing further liberalization with a new Telecommunications Act and an independent regulatory body established to oversee the diversification of the industry. Botswana Telecommunication Corporation (BTC) has one of the best digital networks in Africa having achieved nearly 100 per cent digitalisation. The teledensity of 4.0 (exchange lines per 100 population) is one of the highest in Southern Africa. A satellite supported international access allows for direct dialling to at least 180 countries around the world.

 Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC)

Distance from Major Centers - Gaborone, the capital city is 380 km from Johannesburg; 1510 km from Cape Town; 990 km from Harare; 600 km from Bulawayo and 1365 from Lusaka.

Air Transport

The national carrier, Air Botswana, operates several scheduled flights within the country and in the region.

Air Botswana

Regional flights are also serviced by South African Express Airways and a number of smaller private charter air services operate throughout the country. 

Rail Transport and Dry Port Facility

Botswana Railways (BR) forms part of a crucial link in the regional railway network system. Through Spoornet of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) in the south, and National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) in the north, Botswana Railways (BR) provides a connection to Namibia and Swaziland and a continuous rail link to Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi. Botswana Railways operates containerised Dry Port facilities in the capital Gaborone, in north-eastern Botswana in Francistown and Selibe-Phikwe in the country’s centre. These serve as dry port facilities for locally based importers and exporters, offering containerised door-to-door delivery.

Road Transport

Botswana is at the centre of the Southern African region and easily accessible by roads from all major regional centers.

The Trans-Kalahari Highway is a 595-kilometre corridor which links the capitals of Namibia (Windhoek) and Botswana (Gaborone), and serves as a strategic link in the Maputo-Walvis Bay Economic Corridor. It plays an international role as it provides cheaper access routes to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe as well as making game reserves and other tourist attractions more accessible.

A Corridor Planning Committee, involving Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, has been established to promote the utilisation of the Trans-Kalahari Highway and Walvis Bay Port.

Botswana also has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with members of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) with the objective of ensuring equitable distribution of cross-border traffic to achieve parity among member States.

Requirements for foreign investment in manufacturing

According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry foreign investors wishing to invest in the manufacturing sector are required to meet the following conditions:

If the investment is wholly owned by non-citizens, investors must bring a minimum investment of $100,000 into Botswana.

For joint ventures with Batswana citizens the minimum investment is $75,000.

For enterprises with more than two shareholders an additional $50,000 is required per shareholder.

Incentives for manufacturing industries include:

  • All machinery and equipment imported for purposes of manufacturing is duty free
  • Manufacturing companies are eligible for the exemption of sales tax on imported raw materials provided the produce is for export outside the customs area
  • A duty drawback facility is available to manufacturing companies that export outside the customs area
  • Companies securing development approval order can get a tax holiday and special treatment of capital expenditure

Companies certified by the International Financial Services Sector (IFSC) have additional incentives:

  • A corporate tax rate of 15%
  • Exemption from withholding taxes in Botswana
  • Credits for withholding taxes levied elsewhere
  • Access to Botswana's Double Taxation Treaty network
Investment Opportunities

Government policy is to diversify investment into any profitable and sustainable sector of the economy to ease current dependence on mining. Investment is particularly encouraged in manufacturing, tourism and its infrastructure, in the "knowledge economy" and in financial services through the new International Financial Service Centre.

The Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA) emphasis on the manufacturing sector in order to produce an export stream and tackle widespread unemployment.

BEDIA is particularly interested to help investors in the following sectors:

  • Textiles and garments
  • The establishment of a modern tannery
  • Diamond cutting and polishing
  • Jewelry
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Engineering products
  • Printing and publishing
  • Plastics
  • Ceramics
  • Information technology
  • Data processing
  • Tourism

The International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) wants to encourage banking and finance companies, broking and trading, insurance, investment advice, and the flotation of unit trusts, money market funds, equity funds and retirement funds.

Investment Incentive

The government is actively encouraging private sector development through an attractive tax system, by abolishing exchange controls and providing a range of investment incentives. Investors in Botswana can be encouraged by the following:

  • The economy is stable, well managed, growing strongly, with low rates of inflation
  • No foreign exchange controls including free repatriation of profits, dividends and capital
  • A low tax regime — corporate tax is only 15% for manufacturing and certified financial companies and 25% for others
  • The highest bracket of income tax is 25%
  • The government is committed to promoting economic growth through private sector development It adopts a policy of zero tolerance towards corruption.
  • The international organisation Transparency International confirms that the incidence of corruption in Botswana is low.
  • Botswana respects the rule of law and protects the rights of private ownership of property
  • Botswana enjoys a good transport infrastructure of frequent air services, tarred roads and modern telecommunications.
  • It has a stable workforce, good industrial relations and competitive labour costs
  • New opportunities have opened through the US Africa Growth and Opportunities Act which allows quota and duty free entry of goods manufactured in the Botswana market to the USA
  • Products manufactured in Botswana can enter the European Union free of duty and quotas
Tourism Statistics

Tourism is seen as an important sector in the economy of Botswana providing jobs, local incomes and making contributions to Government revenues. In recognition of this importance though lacking any objective measurement of it, the Government of Botswana decided to strengthen the process of collecting tourism statistics, and embarked upon measures to analyse the economic contribution of tourism with a view to underpinning a series of forthcoming strategies and policies for the development of tourism in the country. Central to this initiative has been the Research and Statistics Unit (RSU) of the Department of Tourism (DOT). The RSU, as part of a UNDP/UNWTO project, has been strengthening the process of all the tourism statistics in Botswana including arrival statistics, accommodation statistics, statistics on visitors to the National Parks, sample surveys of visitors, and other surveys concerned with trying to improve the Government‟s understanding of the tourism industry. As a follow-on to the improvements in the tourism statistical processes, the DOT has taken the step of putting together this „Experimental Tourism Satellite Account‟, following the methodology recommended by the UNWTO and endorsed by the UN Statistical Commission, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Commission through Eurostat. The DOT has been assisted in this endeavour by a Reference Group within Botswana that has included the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the Bank of Botswana (BOB), and the University of Botswana (UOB). Many other organisations within Botswana also contributed to the work, including the private sector. The efforts of so many organisations have been much appreciated by the DOT.

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