Botswana’s diamond mines have lengthy supplied jobs and financial stability. But the land-locked nation is now seeking to diversify its economic system and is betting on sustainable tourism to assist preserve its excessive lifestyle sooner or later.

Britain’s Prince Harry calls Botswana his “second dwelling”: For 20 years it has been his vacation spot of alternative when he desires to flee the media glare. The younger royal even sourced the central diamond for his fiancée’s engagement ring from the nation.

The diamond trade – in partnership with De Beers, the world’s largest provider – at present contributes round 20 p.c to the southern African nation’s GDP. Since diamonds have been found within the nation in 1967, the income from mining has been invested in infrastructure, colleges and medical centres.

It is what reworked Botswana from one of many poorest to the fourth-wealthiest nation on the continent – after Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

And with which have come jobs, stability and schooling, with a literacy charge of 83 p.c. Today, some 20 p.c of Botswana’s 2-million-strong inhabitants is employed by the diamond mining trade.

But because the nation’s minister of atmosphere, wildlife and tourism advised FRANCE 24, diamonds aren’t ceaselessly.

“This is a transition period,” stated Minister Tshekedi Khama. “We have to go from relying on diamonds to diversifying the economy.”

With reserves dwindling, the trade fears an expiration date – estimated at 20 to 30 years from now.

Additionally, like all treasured commodities, worldwide demand for diamonds has vastly declined, notably with a pointy downturn in 2015.

De Beers, which had “zero lay-offs during the slump”, says it won’t just “pack up and depart” once the industry fades. Pat Dambe, vice-president of corporate affairs at the company, told FRANCE 24 in a telephone interview from the capital Gaborone that De Beers “will proceed to take a look at expertise, innovation and new methods of enterprise on this very dynamic trade”.

“Predicting the future means that you have to constantly plan. And as a partner of Botswana, that’s what we’re doing … One of our schemes is in collaboration with the Stanford Graduate School of Business, aimed at empowering young entrepreneurs and owners of established businesses in Botswana.”

Jacob Sesinyi, former communications director of Debswana, De Beers’ three way partnership with the Botswana authorities, supplied a much less optimistic forecast, nonetheless.

The diamond producer “will just move on once the industry evaporates”, Sesinyi stated.

With this chance looming, Botswana is now seeking to capitalise on its second-largest revenue earner: tourism.

According to official figures, the nation acquired 1.6 million guests in 2015, producing an estimated €780 million. While this solely accounts for three.three p.c of its GDP, the sector has created some 140,000 jobs, in response to estimates.

Mmtila Moswang, 31, is a waitress on the not too long ago opened Travelodge in Kasane, a lot of whose 7,600 inhabitants work within the service trade. The trendy facility is only a stone’s throw from the banks of the Chobe River, the place 4 international locations meet: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and a small strip of Namibia.

Tourists taken with wildlife flock to the world to get a glimpse of elephants, crocodiles and buffalos, to call however a couple of. Some animals even roam the streets freely, as many of the nationwide parks in Botswana are unfenced.

The city centre is dwelling to a market, the place dozens of stalls are set as much as promote fruit, greens and materials bearing the sun-soaked colors of Africa. Other artifacts are additionally on provide for the vacationer who chooses to look past the natural world.

“When I wasn’t working, I wasn’t able to buy myself simple things like toiletries. It was also boring being at home all day, watching movies … There are more jobs for people like me now. But those in the mining industry will struggle, because that’s the only experience they have,” stated Moswang, a mom of two, whereas brushing the hair from her face.

“To work in tourism you have to train, and that costs money. I paid €500 for my course. How can someone who just lost their job afford that and make the transition?” she requested.

In a bid to develop the sector, the nation is taking a look at numerous tourism fashions – together with journey, cultural, city, enterprise and – above all – sustainable tourism.

Industry consultants say a searching ban imposed three years in the past, and the designation of the Okavango Delta as a UNESCO world heritage web site, could present alternatives for development.

The Okavango contains an space of between 15,000 and 22,000 sq. kilometres, relying on the season, and is dwelling to zebras, lions and the world’s largest inhabitants of elephants.

The query on everybody’s minds, nonetheless, stays whether or not Botswana can survive on tourism alone as soon as the diamonds are gone.

Minister Khama believes this might work if an environmentally sustainable mannequin is adopted.

“The government has made a decision to boost eco tourism, because we are not sure how long our natural resources will last unless we make a point to protect them,” he stated.

Ralph Bousfield, who has been dubbed the “rock star” of the safari circle, is extra cautious.

“You get scared if you start comparing returns from mining to tourism – I don’t think tourism will ever make the kind of money that diamonds make,” he stated. “We need to manage expectations, especially for the next generation.”

Bousfield was raised within the bush by a household that has been guiding for 5 generations. Today, he’s the proprietor of the Jack’s Camp safari group.

“We need to be a lot more innovative, to look beyond Chobe and the Okavango Delta. We will need a lot more area for tourism … Despite the small population, land here is as much of a problem as it is elsewhere,” he stated, giving the bracelets on his wrist – worn for defense – a jangle with each gesture.

“Botswana is a wildlife tourism place. To change people’s perception is the real challenge,” Bousfield said. “Like what we are trying to do: It’s so much more about the experience.”

In addition to 5 safari camps, Bousfield has a cell safari that strikes each few days. It’s a part of what he refers to as a “growing high-end sector”, but one that “isn’t where it could be”.

Botswana can also be taking a look at boosting commerce with neighbouring international locations. The €220 million Kazungula Bridge between Zambia and Botswana is a part of that plan.

Expected to be accomplished by 2021, the 923-metre-long road-and-rail mission is being carried out partly with monetary assist from the African Development Bank.

“Diamonds may have been the launching pad for the success of our country, but we have new tricks up our sleeves,” stated one engineer.

This is a sentiment echoed by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which held a workshop in Kasane in early December to advertise the media as potential advocates of sustainable tourism and wildlife conservation.

According to Taleb Rifai, secretary basic of the UNWTO, sustainable tourism has confirmed not solely to spice up financial improvement and create jobs, however to advertise the “inclusion of communities”.

Rifai stated it may additionally assist place a growing nation to capitalise on “international markets and new business models based [on] the concept of the green economy”.

The economic system of this African nation could but cling within the steadiness. But one factor is for positive: The nation is exhibiting each management and foresight because it seems to be to the longer term.

As they are saying in Botswana: “Beautiful words don’t put porridge in the pot.”

Date created : 2017-12-16

Botswana’s diamond mines have lengthy supplied jobs and financial stability. But the land-locked nation is now seeking to diversify its economic system and is betting on sustainable tourism to assist preserve its excessive lifestyle sooner or later. by: Farah Grimm published:


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