The Rise of Botswana’s Rough Diamonds

When Botswana won independence 50 years ago, one journalist described the country as “an impoverished, arid and hungry land without hope of achieving economic stability”. Half a century on and Botswana has turned into one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. Its capital, Gaborone, is a thriving city of just under a quarter of a million people with skyscrapers sprouting up in every corner. Part of its sparkle comes from Botswana’s diamond mines, which account for a third of its GDP. Another part is visible in the distance from those tall buildings – the vast desert landscape, home to one of Africa’s best preserved wildlife habitats that attracts a growing number of tourists. But there are other issues too that are not far beneath the surface. An Aids epidemic still claims thousands of lives, unemployment is on the rise and there are tensions over aspects of life that have come with modernisation.

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