The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning says the economy grew by close to 20 percent in 2011 as compared to 2010, a year after the economic downturn.
In its latest economic bulletin for the first quarter of 2012, the ministry says in nominal terms, GDP reached P120.5 billion in 2011, from P101.3 billion recorded in 2010 and thus showing signs of economic recovery.
The mining sector, however, declined by 24.8 percent compared to the same quarter in 2010. This was due to a significant slowdown in production and sales of diamonds in the last two months of 2011. However, the mining sector is expected to rebound in the first and second half of 2012 due to the increasing demand for diamond commodities in the global markets despite the reported fragility.
All sectors recorded positive growth rates except mining which declined by 1.3 percent in 2011 compared to 6.7 percent growth registered in 2010.
“It is worth noting that, of late, contribution of the mining sector to total GDP has been declining, even though it still remains the main driver of the economy. This may imply that diversification efforts are gaining ground as the non-mining sectors continue to grow, increasing by 4.4, 7.1 and 7.8 percent in 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively,” the bulletin states.
However, unemployment remains a challenge for the economy. The ministry says there is an estimated overall unemployment rate of 17.8 percent of the total labour force, up by 0.3 percent as compared to the last reported figure of 17.5 percent reported in the 2005/06 Labour Force Survey. In terms of gender, unemployment rate was high among females at 21.4 percent as compared to men at 14.5 percent. This trend has been observed in Botswana for previous surveys.
Indications are that that unemployment rate decreases as age increases, with the highest number of unemployed people being the youth in the age group between 15 and 19 at 41.4 percent followed by the age group between 20 and 24 at 34.0 percent.
The National Internship Programme introduced in 2009 is, however, aimed at giving graduates the opportunity to gain practical work experiences and skills by exposing them to job opportunities as well as bridge the gap between their skills and job market requirements.
“The major challenge faced by the youth is that the job market in Botswana is saturated making it impossible for them to be absorbed in the labour market. Thus, it is more important now than before, to redirect and re-orient employment policies and training programmes by ensuring that the existing employment and incomes policies are cohesive and supportive of the overall government goal of economic diversification and private sector growth, initiatives that will contribute to creation of more employment opportunities,” the bulletin says.