Although being praised as a market economy, Botswana has strong traits of a government-driven economy. Until today, the economy remains largely monocultural, depending mainly on the mining of diamonds. Diamonds account on average for 70% of exports. The biggest foreign exchange earner, DEBSWANA, is a joint venture between the private DeBeers diamond agglomerate and the Government of Botswana, which holds a 50% stake in the company. Most other sectors of the economy are dominated by monopolistic "parastatals", public enterprises under control and tutelage of the central government. Efforts to diversify the economy, to develop and support Small and Medium Enterprises have not really been successful so far. Botswana has embarked on a process of structural reforms in the public sector that should enhance its competitiveness in the globalised world of the 21st century.
In its efforts to support these reforms, FES in Botswana is presently concentrating on three areas: implementation of the privatisation policy, efforts to diversify economy, and development of a comprehensive and inclusive Social Security Policy.
The Privatisation Policy gives the framework in which the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA, formed in 2001) has developed a "Privatisation Masterplan". In cooperation with PEEPA, FES is organising a series of workshops to popularise and discuss these ideas with all sectors of society, namely non-state actors such as trade unions, civil society organisations, media etc. The intention is to involve all sectors of society in the implementation of the privatisation process.
The Botswana Economics Association (BEA) and the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) are the partners in a series of activities to analyse and discuss matters of economic policy as well as the public sector reform. Recent work focussed on issues of economic diversifications and the economic crises.
The other side of the coin is social policy. Although all Governments have been indeed socially sensitive, there still is no comprehensive "social net". The National Development Plans contain only provisions to aid the poorest people in Botswana.
As a "spin off" from regional activities supported by FES towards the development of a SADC Social Security Code, the University of Botswana initiated a process towards developing an integrated and inclusive system of social security.
A series of workshops brought together all stakeholders in this area. A group of experts from the University of Botswana analysed the social security system in Botswana and produced a publication on this topic.