Sat | Jan 28, 2023

An African capitalist success story

Published:Friday | January 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

I have seen two letters recently (on January 5 and 7) praising the economic and social strides made by Botswana. What is more striking is their growth when compared with their African counterparts.

The main reason behind the advancements of Botswana was their founding leader, Sir Seretse Khama, president of Botswana (1966-1980), who established and ensured the entrenchment of his governance style, which was conservatism. For an African leader of that era, conservatism was radical thinking, as socialism and communism threatened and swept across the continent.

Did not bow

Khama did not bow to such pressures, he remained pro-West, and his conservative-styled governance flourished. This has resulted in Botswana having one of the fastest per capita incomes in the world since its independence in 1966. Its economy grew by an average nine per cent per year between 1966 and 1999, pulling that nation and its people out of nothing, as one of the poorest nations on Earth at the time, and on to a path of prosperity.

Yes, Botswana has diamonds, but many other African countries have an embarrassment of wealth in their natural resources and yet are much worse off. It's the governance structure and style or 'ism' that differs.

Botswana is described as one of the most capitalist countries in Africa and now enjoys a very stable governance and economic structure with negligible national and foreign debt. Seretse Khama's enduring conservative legacy has continued under the stewardship of his son Ian, the current president. When will Jamaica follow their lead?

I am, etc.,