Botswana’s diamond mines have long provided jobs and economic stability. But the land-locked nation is now looking to diversify its economy and is betting on sustainable tourism to help maintain its high standard of living in the future.
The diamond industry – in partnership with De Beers, the world’s largest supplier – currently contributes around 20 percent to the southern African nation’s GDP. Since diamonds were discovered in the country in 1967, the revenue from mining has been invested in infrastructure, schools and medical centres. It is what transformed Botswana from one of the poorest to the fourth-wealthiest country on the continent – after Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. And with that have come jobs, stability and education, with a literacy rate of 83%.
Today, some 20% of Botswana’s 2-million-strong population is employed by the diamond mining industry. But as the country’s minister of environment, wildlife and tourism told FRANCE 24 , diamonds aren’t forever. “This is a transition period,” said Minister Tshekedi Khama. “We have to go from relying on diamonds to diversifying the economy.” With reserves dwindling, the industry fears an expiration date – estimated at 20 to 30 years from now. Additionally, like all precious commodities, international demand for diamonds has greatly declined, notably with a sharp downturn in 2015.
Tourism in Botswana
According to official figures, the country received 1.6 million visitors in 2015, generating an estimated €780 million. While this only accounts for 3.3% of its GDP, the sector has created some 140,000 jobs, according to estimates.
Tourists interested in wildlife flock to the area to get a glimpse of elephants, crocodiles and buffalos, to name but a few. Some animals even roam the streets freely, as most of the national parks in Botswana are unfenced. The town centre is home to a market, where dozens of stalls are set up to sell fruit, vegetables and fabrics bearing the sun-soaked colours of Africa. Other artifacts are also on offer for the tourist who chooses to look beyond the flora and fauna.
In a bid to expand the sector, the country is looking at various tourism models – including adventure, cultural, urban, business and – above all – sustainable tourism.
What does this mean for advertising?
With Botswana being a very popular destination for tourists and with the goal of the government to grow tourism, there is going to be demand for more commercial products and services. We have found that over the years there has been an increase in radio advertising placements in Botswana and predict that the demand will soon double or even tripple as more companies start expanding to Botswana. If you would like to be ahead of the curve, let’s chat about advertising options suitable for your brand based on our extensive research on the media landscape in Botswana.