Botswana is among 14 African countries that AFIDEP in collaboration with UNFPA-Botswana has supported to develop awareness and policy options for harnessing the Demographic Dividend
In 2017, AFIDEP in partnership with the Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU) of the University of Cape Town and UNFPA, concluded studies in Botswana, Namibia, the Kingdom of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), and Zimbabwe, on their prospects for harnessing the demographic dividend. These studies were commissioned in 2016 by the respective national governments.
Botswana is generally more favourable to earn the dividend than in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. Compared to an estimated average of 54 percent of people in the theoretical working ages 15 to 64 years in sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion is 65 percent in Botswana. As a result of the declining dependency burden, the country is already benefitting from the dividend, although to a small degree. In Botswana, the magnitude of the first demographic dividend increased significantly in the first decade of the century and peaked in 2008. The window of opportunity to harness the demographic dividend is expected to close in 2050 in Botswana.
The country is not maximising the benefits of the dividend because of high unemployment rates characterised by the fact that young people are effectively dependents until early thirties. Highlighting the importance of intensive efforts to create jobs for youth. Globally, young people begin to be independent by earning more labour income than what they consume at age 26. The age of economic independence is 33 years in Botswana. Unemployment rates for young people aged 15-24 in Botswana are 35 percent.
In Botswana, the living standards would be boosted by 12 percent under the status quo where fertility remains around the current level, but by 18 percent if fertility declines to around the replacement level of 2 births per woman.
The studies give the following policy options for the Southern African countries to maximise the dividend:
- Facilitate further demographic transition by ensuring universal access to voluntary family planning, with particular focus on reducing the high levels of teenage pregnancies and early marriages.
- Reinforce investments in nutrition and health to improve child survival and ensure a healthy labour force.
- Prioritise economic reforms and investments to accelerate the creation of jobs and other well-paying livelihoods for youth.
- Improve quality and relevance of education to produce a competitively skilled workforce.
- Strengthen public institutions to facilitate effective and accountable service delivery and use of public resources.
- In 2018, the country’s demographic dividend study report was launched by the then Vice President of the country (and now President) H.E. Mokgweetsi Masisi. In his inauguration speech as President, just a few days after launching the report, he made extensive reference to the study and its recommendations. At the request of the Government of Botswana, AFIDEP has embarked on developing a practical framework to operationalise their demographic dividend strategy.
- Botswana has integrated demographic dividend in the country’s national development plans.
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