This should be a year of difference. It is a year that Africa, SADC or Botswana should arise. It should register in our psyche that life boils down to choices, principles, strategies and vision.
This article treats subjects athwart international security and foreign policy. The treatment zooms into Botswana as unique country which has potential in both the SADC region and Africa. The contents are tailored for a comprehensive audience involving open-minded policymakers, students and civil leaders.
The global perception that Asia will be a global zone of influence is one that the Botswana public should not take lightly. The rise of economies, which were once poorer than Botswana in the 80s and early 90s, should give us impetus to seek to move forward.
In a globalized economy, Botswana needs a redefined strategy in its political economy. The objective should, however, be one that reconciles GDP growth and reducing inequality (increase equality). This is dependent on a robust, sharp, crisp political economy through which the poverty can be reduced from 39 percent to [possibly] 5 percent [of illegal immigrants].
The first onus is for Botswana to develop a clear economic strategy in its foreign policy. To this end, Botswana’s major economic partners are not evident. The USA and Japan (our top buyers of diamonds) should not be misconstrued as fitting this category.
Economic partnership is preceded by crisply negotiated economic partnership agreements (EPAs), which are characterized by fair reciprocity. The objective is to benefit trade at corporate and individual level. Case in point: of all African nations featured in the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC), only nine are prioritized by KoreaÔÇöBotswana is not one of them! Rwanda has followed a similar model and moved up 12 places in the World Bank’s economic rankings!
In similar fashion, Botswana needs well-meaning partners through whom we can benefit in terms of technology transfer, human capital development and cultural exchange.
Botswana also needs to restructure economically, mobilize its resources and pursue a “Bots-relevant” development strategy. The Seoul Development Consensus encourages developing countries to focus on inclusive, sustainable and resilient economic growth, among other things.
The objective is to help reduce and where possible eliminate the ramifications of the race-to-the-bottom (RTB) and Golden Straitjacket whereby foreign investments (including those from Korea) eventually erode local interests as well as sustainable and balanced growth. Creating SOEs (state-owned enterprises), followed by multiple acquisition of intellectual property rights for foods, traditional medicine and new technological avenues will create a strong economic base for Botswana. Korean Chaebols (Samsung, LG, Posco); Japanese Zaibatsu (Mitsubishi, Marubeni, Sumitomo etc) survived on economic mercantilism for decades. Their offshoring strategies ensured sustainable economic prowess even when growth hit a constant. Using a comprehensive negotiation approach, as envisioned by I.W. Zartman, Botswana may create jobs for citizen within and outside its borders in SADC and beyond. Thus instead of crying foul over not qualifying for aid, which creates debt, we can create wealth!
Botswana mobilizing its own resources means developing its human capital extensively and intensively. Without negligence of the recently revamped public school curricular, the main objective of education is to create cultural and human capital.
A combination of these creates a philosophy. A philosophy creates a sustainable, flexible and balanced system, which transcends politics.
The greatest challenge is to diversify Botswana’s human capital base. Sectoral overpopulation is created by the huge income gaps within the economy as citizens seek to maximize interests.
(2) Developing more human capital to terminal levels may work just as much as it has benefited several economies including Japan, Korea and China. PhDs are an economic asset. Batswana have no right to aggrandize and immortalize PhDs. Their elitist sacredness is preserved by their rarity. Proliferating PhD availability has multiple benefits; one of which is to save Botswana from false paradigms.
The problem with Botswana’s multiple “doctors” is that they acquired irrelevant knowledge and skills. More PhDs mean more indigenous knowledge, which in turn benefits the economy. The primary distinction between “doctors” and PhD holders of a globalized economy is the latter’s flexible attitude and aptitude.
To sum it up: Botswana should entirely shift from populist politics to a strong political economy. Leaders should be elected on such merit. Tribal politics have no place in this modern time. Each citizen needs a conscious and of a global citizen whose world is punctuated by all the hallmarks of political economy. Anything bearing the marks of liberation politics is utterly detestable to such an individual. This individual needs like leaders or better.
Botswana needs selfless leaders such as the late Sir Seretse Khama (may he RIP) who exercised exceptional ingenuity to make Botswana what it is today (ref. Ian Taylor, 2006). These are leaders who will pursue national and foreign policy at an optimal pace (as opposed to snail pace) in the economic interest of collective society. Such a renaissance would be the big brush dipped in black paint that thickens the line between ministry of state and Tsholetsa House!
God and editors willing (not forgetting exhorters), there may be more of this exchange of ideas throughout the year whereupon we can build on this argument. This is merely the tip of an iceberg we might want to explore sea-deep.
May God bless you with long life and prosperity on His earth as He continues to bury lies, deception and greed!