Although Botswana is Southern African Development Community (SADC’s) fourth largest economy, the number of peer-reviewed economic journal articles produced by the country are still low compared to other countries in the bloc and the African continent. These were the findings of the working paper by Obie Porteous, the Assistant Economics Professor at Middlebury College focusing on International Trade and Development Economics, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa.
The working paper entitled “Research Deserts and Oases: Evidence from 27 Thousand Economics Journal Articles” which reviewed all articles related to African countries published between 2000 and 2019 in peer-reviewed economics journals shows that Botswana still has “less overall research” per capita, and while SADC has made much progress and has seen an increase in the number of journal articles, economics research across the bloc is not evenly distributed.
Peer-reviewed journals are articles written by experts and are reviewed by several other experts in the field before the article is published in the journal in order to ensure the article’s quality. While Botswana did produce a number of journals, the numbers were too low. Between 2000 and 2019, Botswana produced 294 economic journals while South Africa was the highest in Africa with a total of 5463 journals.
The working paper states that less research output means that policy-makers in the country miss out on helpful input in their work. “The majority of research is context-specific, so the continued lack of research on many African countries means that the evidence base for local policy-makers is much smaller in these countries,” states part of the working paper.
Although Botswana is ranked 20th in Africa and 7th in SADC in terms of the number of journal articles produced between 2000 and 2019, the working paper highlights that Botswana has one of the highest African authored journals or journals with at least one co-author from an African institution. And while Africa has witnessed an increasing number of peer reviewed journal articles since 2000 by both both African and non-African economists, Africa generates less than 1% of the world’s research.