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Botswana must strengthen digital ecosystem to achieve high-income ambitions

Botswana’s goal to achieve high-income status by 2036 rests primarily on the strength of its digital ecosystem, and specifically on access to affordable ICT infrastructure.

This is according to the country’s central bank, the Bank of Botswana (BoB).

BoB Governor Moses Pelaelo said: “To propel the country to high-income status by 2036, there is a need for a dedicated focus on improving the existing digital ecosystem and related ICT infrastructure to improve availability and affordability of the internet and development of a critical mass of digital skills.”

Pelaelo added that the country must develop economic resilience - underpinned by innovation-friendly policies and the ability to leverage available technologies “to foster inclusive growth and balanced economic development.”

The Governor said Botswana also needs to improve availability and affordability of the internet and development of a critical mass of digital skills, to harness technology benefits.

BoB Deputy Director - Research and Financial Stability Department, Innocent Molalapata emphasised the link between technology and economic growth.

“A more successful transition and adaptation to the digital economy has the potential to cure the perennial economic challenges of Botswana, namely, narrow economic base, unemployment and unequal distribution of income,” said Molalapata.

He warned that the state of technology and capability (or inability) to adapt has the potential to enhance or worsen the productivity of the factors of production.

“Botswana is lagging behind in technological readiness and innovation compared to peer upper-middle income countries,” said Molalapata who challenged the government and the private sector to proactively participate in the country’s 4IR journey.

BoB has advocated the importance of strengthening intellectual property rights, R&D, and rebates on innovation while investing in ICT driven financial systems.

The reserve bank has also called for timely implementation and maintenance of functionality and utility of Government’s planned digital transformation initiatives.

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