Zimbabwe miraculously outperforms Botswana on SDGs

18 Jul 2018

The good news is that Botswana is doing well in terms of “Healthy life expectancy at birth”, “Births attended by skilled health personnel”, “Surviving infants who received 2 WHO-recommended vaccines”, “Female to male labour force participation rate”, “Freshwater withdrawal as % of total renewable water resources”, “Improved water source, piped (% urban population with access)”, “Climate Change Vulnerability Index”, “CO2 emissions embodied in fossil fuel exports (kg/capita)”, “Property Rights” and “Government Health and Education spending (% GDP)”

As the 2018 Sustainable Development Goals Index and Dashboards Report shows, the bad news is that “no country is on track to achieve all goals by 2030.” In the particular case of Botswana, there is still a lot of work to be done with regard to “Prevalence of obesity, BMI ≥ 30 (% adult population)”, “Cereal yield (t/ha)”, “Neonatal mortality rate”, “Incidence of tuberculosis (per 100,000 population”, “HIV prevalence (per 1,000)”, “Traffic deaths rate (per 100,000 population)”, “Seats held by women in national parliaments”, “Population using at least basic drinking water services”, “Population using at least basic sanitation services”, “Access to electricity (% population)”,” CO2 emissions from fuel combustion/electricity output”, “Proportion of the population using the internet (%)”, “Quality of overall infrastructure”, “Research and development expenditure (% GDP)”, “Gini Coefficient adjusted for top income (1-100)”, “Anthropogenic wastewater that receives treatment (%)”, “Reactive nitrogen production footprint (kg/capita)”, “Energy-related CO2 emissions per capita”, “Imported CO2 emissions, technology-adjusted”, “Population who feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where they live” and “Government Efficiency.”

The report shows that what some believe is the sick man of the Southern African Development Community is actually a lot healthier than Botswana. Broke and politically chaotic Zimbabwe is doing better than Botswana in terms of implementing the goals. The regional average score is 52.8 and while Botswana scored 58.5, Zimbabwe scored 58.8. From a total of 156 countries, Zimbabwe got position 115 while Botswana got position 116.

As customary with indexes of this nature, some of the scoring will be contentious. There is an indicator for “Adults (15 years +) with an account at a bank or other financial institution or with a mobile-money-service provider (%)” under the Decent Work and Economic Growth Goal. In the past, the African Progress Panel, which is chaired by former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has argued that making a financial transaction through a cellphone is evidence not of financial inclusion but exclusion. By equating the properly banked with the unbanked who use mobile-money-service providers, SDG Index essentially sees what the African Progress Panel as regression as progress. Likewise, after BCL mine was indefinitely shut down, cutting off the lifeline of a whole region and destroying tens of thousands of lives in the process, an annual mining report from Fraser Institute pronounced Botswana as the best mining jurisdiction in Africa.