Botswana - Economic development

Botswana has made job creation a top priority of government planning in the past few years. Although employment rates have grown, unemployment is formally estimated at 21%, but is closer to 40% in unofficial estimates in 2002.

The government has a long-standing policy of promoting human capital development and health care. All education through the university level is free, but 30% of the population over 15 in 2002 was illiterate. Great importance is placed on the development of rural areas so as to reduce rural-urban migration.

In light of the limited resources, Botswana's government now follows "food security" agricultural policy of promoting only those foodstuffs which can be grown economically.

Botswana's long-term economic prospects are highly dependent on South Africa and its other Southern African neighbors. The government has been a strong proponent of economic integration among the 14 members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The organization's 2000 Trade Protocol called for the elimination of all tariff and nontariff barriers to trade by 2012 among the 11 countries signing the protocol.

Botswana has been rated the least-corrupt country in Africa, according to Transparency International. The country aims to diversify its economy away from minerals, and ecotourism is being promoted. Botswana has been a victim of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and the government has taken steps to tackle the virus through prevention programs and the provision of advanced drug therapies to those infected. In 2003, the National Development Plan Nine was forthcoming, under which economic development projects were due to be turned over to the private sector.

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