UNICEF economic advisor urges Botswana to relook at its inequality policy

26 Feb 2018

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)’s Principal Advisor on Social Policy for Eastern and Southern Africa, Jean Dupraz, says in order to address the high inequality conditions prevailing in Botswana, the country must urgently develop policies to bridge inequality.

Dupraz’s utterance comes against the backdrop of surveys conducted by the World Bank and other non-partisan research networks which showed that Botswana was the second highest unequal country on the African continent after South Africa.

According to Dupraz, Botswana faces a peculiar situation where the country is experiencing growth inconsistency characterised by favourable economic development, but at the same time with relatively high poverty and inequality. He says in order for the country to make tangible improvements then she must “relook development policies that are aimed at addressing inequality differences.”

He also said Botswana must not fall for the “middle income country” trap as this is simply an artificial grouping formed by economic development, that if a country attains a certain threshold, they are then considered as a middle income country. ”Most countries in SACU experience the ‘middle-income trap’ which means after they get to a certain level of per capita income, the country barely goes past that level as its per capita economic growth becomes idle.”

As an example he said Botswana is the most unequal country in the world although she has managed to reach the middle income threshold which is mainly characterised by social progress such as low child mortality rates and improved access to basic education.

Economists who authored a recent UNDP report titled Income Inequality Trends in Sub-Saharan Africa: Divergence, Determinants and Consequences say that the “natural resource curse, an urban bias of public policy and ethnic and gender inequalities” are some of the reasons why Botswana, a country with an abundance of diamonds, is the third most unequal country in Africa. Economic inequality, which is often called income inequality, is the unequal distribution of a country’s wealth. In Botswana a lot of people live in poverty while a minority amasses enormous wealth.