Diamond-dependent Botswana is struggling to attract investors to diversify its economy away from the mineral, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has revealed.
Contributing to the United Nations General Assembly debate on Thursday, Masisi said his government’s efforts to steer the economy away from a dependence on diamonds towards other sectors have so far faltered due to lack of investors.
He said the government’s diversification drive has been “an uphill battle”, with the diamond sector remaining the "bedrock" of the economy.
Botswana's post-independence economy has been anchored on the mining and processing of diamonds, a resource that has pulled one of the world's poorest countries into the middle-income bracket since 1966.
Mining remains the biggest revenue earner for this sparsely populated southern African country, accounting for about 20 percent of total gross domestic product.
But in recent years the government has begun investing in a "knowledge-based economy", one that does not rely on a finite resource or that can be so easily sideswiped by external shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
With high levels of inequality, an unemployment rate of around 25 percent and a tiny population of just over two million, the Botswana authorities are launching initiatives from e-learning to online markets.
The government also aims to develop other minerals, including coal, which the country has an estimated 212 billion tonnes of.
Masisi said his government is working with neighbouring countries to develop infrastructure to export coal.