For a long time, sport in Botswana has been deemed as just leisure with no direct impact on the economy.
This however is about to change. That is if the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) can have its way.
The commission is said to have set itself a target of facilitating that sport can ‘contribute at least 0.5% to the GDP.
This may however be a task easier said than done. As a sector, sport does not even get a mention when speaking of contribution to the GDP.
According to Statistics Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Q1 2020 report, five (5) economic activities directly contributed to Botswana’s GDP for the period 2019 to 2020.
While Social Services, a sector within which sport falls contributes approximately 7% to the GDP, the contribution from sport is however negligible or perhaps even unknown.
According to BNSC acting chief executive officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho, this comes as data collection with respect to sports has not been well structured, something the commission seeks to change.
The BNSC CEO says ‘measuring the contribution of sports to the economy will be a priority going into the 3rd cycle.’
Addressing affiliates at the recent BNSC Annual General Meeting (AGM), Serufho said sport can significantly contribute to the economy.
He said by undertaking commercially viable activities, the sporting sector can contribute to the economy in many ways.
“Sport grows the economy through event-based tourism. This is when we host events and have people sent their money within the country. And other sports sections that are doing well contribute to the growth of the economy,” Serufho said.
Retails play a fundamental role through sports shops as they create employment and they are obviously generating money for their sponsors. Tax pay on the other hand plays a vital role in contributing to the economy.
“We also have our small but growing manufacturing sector in sport where we have our all kasi, Mogakolodi Ngele (MN), Dlala, stricker, Uzza etc. making their mark through branding. The good thing is that we are now buying local and not shipping a lot of money outside the boarders of Botswana to purchase regalia,” he explained.
As it stands, the majority of soccer teams in Botswana Premier League (BPL) are dressed by local brands. According to Serufho, this are some of the positive stripes sport is making in the economy of Botswana.
Highlighting that they also have the opportunity of exporting athletes which also brings money into the country through exploiting their talent.
The BNSC CEO said while the BNSC has been aiming for a 0.5%, the target may be very low.
Serufho said the BNSC should rather be aspiring to contribute at least 3% of GDP to the economy of Botswana.
He pointed out that in Europe, the was a study carried out that showed that on average, sport was contributing 3% of the GDP in European countries.
“We want to make a case for sport and to reap better benefits we must develop a national hostess strategy; so that we host a lot of events but at low cost and have more people come in to spend money in Botswana,” he concluded.
Aside from the direct contribution, Serufho said sport can contribute to the GDP through ‘facilitating healthier lifestyles which can also lead to increased number of social benefits.’
Good health can help avoid healthcare cost this leading to income levels in other sectors.