Saturday, June 15, 2024

Sport plays role towards Botswana’s GDP – Rakgare

Sport is among the services contributing to Botswana’s gross domestic product (GDP) despite the challenges the industry faces.

This was revealed by the minister of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, Tumiso Rakgare, when fielding a question from Selibe Phikwe West Member of Parliament (MP) Dithapelo Keorapetse.

The legislator had asked the minister to brief parliament on the status of local sport in the economy of the country. Among other things, he sought to know sport contribution to the GDP, total number of jobs created, the number of professionals in Botswana and in the diaspora as well as how much professional athletes in the country earn.

The MP is of the view that sport as an industry can employ more youth and contribute meaningfully to the economic status of the countRy. He also holds the view that the sector should be well resourced by both the Government and the private sector.

In his response, Rakgare said “2021 data from Statistics Botswana indicates that the contribution of other services, which include sport, arts and culture to GDP is 2.1% and it is currently employing about 1657 people.”

The minister further informed the august house that there are currently 480 professional athletes in Botswana, the majority of which are from the Botswana Football Premier League.  He further said there are 16 international professional athletes based in the diaspora.

Rakgare further indicated that many of the country’s National Sporting Associations (NSAs) are struggling to organise leagues. He observed that the struggles mostly emanate from a lack of sponsors for their respective leagues.

He narrated that the situation was compounded by the outbreak of COVID-19 as the corporate sector revenues declined and they could not sponsor sport. “Currently only Botswana Football Association (BFA) has leagues that are running. The Association has the Premier League (men), National League (women), First Division (North and South) and Regional Leagues,” he revealed.

The Minister however informed parliament that in instances where there are no leagues, there are tournaments that are organised by the various National Sporting Associations to ensure that athletes get competitive playing time.

On the role of government, Rakgare said its role ‘is to create a conducive environment for the corporate world to invest in sports and assist sport development by sponsoring leagues, national teams, and clubs.’  “The government provides an annual subvention to Botswana National Sports Commission to facilitate international participation in major competitions and the general development of sports in the country,” he informed parliament. Regarding the earnings of professional players, he said athletes usually sign individual contracts with their employers (teams). The contracts remain confidential between the employee and employer. In the context of Botswana, professional players are those who earn a minimum of P3 000 monthly.

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