The Botswana government which is well set on a path towards ending dependency on aid in 2030 has been advised to articulate and pursue potential avenues for future collaboration with former development partners beyond the more traditional development partner.
The advice is based on the “Moving away from Aid – The Experience of Botswana” report compiled by Rachael Calleja and Annalisa Prizzon – development experts from Overseas Development Institute (ODI) who were in the country in March to gather information from government officials, development partners and other experts.
When a country’s income per capita exceeds approximately $12,000 for three consecutive years, it is removed from the list of countries eligible for official development assistance (ODA), as per the policy set out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
The OECD estimates that 29 countries will graduate from the list of ODA recipients by 2030, and Botswana is among those countries expected to graduate from the list. Given the looming graduation in eleven years, the resource dependent country is being advised to carefully manage its transition and relationship over time with development partners.
Botswana was the first country to graduate from the group of Least Developed Countries (LCDs) in 1994 and has since remained an Upper Middle-Income Country (UMIC) but has plans to be a High-Income Country (HIC) in 2036. Already, Botswana is part-way through the process of ODA graduation, with a gross national income (GNI) per capita of $7,750 in 2018.
Though the landlocked country is part-way through the process to graduate from ODA, it de facto transitioned from aid in the late 1990s when donors either left or scaled down their spending in the country. The HIV/AIDS crisis hit Botswana particularly hard in the 2000s and the Botswana government made a strong plea to development partners to come back and scale up their support to help treat and prevent the consequences and spread of HIV/AIDS.
The development experts say governments and development partners should prioritise climate change as a policy area for increased international cooperation, adding that access to climate finance by the Botswana government is limited, because of a combination of low prioritisation by the government itself and limited capacity to apply for international funding.
According to the findings, Botswana government officials recognised that climate-related issues would impact the country going forward, but that they required continued donor engagement – both financially and technically – to advance Botswana’s adaption to and mitigation from climate events.
“Donors could contribute to this agenda by engaging with Botswana to both raise the internal profile and call-to-action, as well as to provide skills and technology needed to advance clean (and green) development,” said Calleja and Prizzon, the two lead authors of the report.
The report further advised that development partners should boost programmes for regional and economic integration, urging development partners’ work with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to support the development of key regional infrastructure is a way to facilitate interregional trade and linkages.
“There is greater scope for engagement to deepen regional integration across the SADC region, with further space to support regional projects designed to facilitate interregional trade, directly or indirectly benefiting Botswana.”