Botswana Clash With Billionaires Could Tarnish Its Reputation As Resource Investor’s Paradise – by Kenneth Rapoza (Forbes Magazine – May 2, 2017)

At first glance, there is simply no country like it in Africa. Within the continent, Botswana is considered to be the crème de la crème. It’s corruption perception score is better than every BRICS nation plus Mexico, according to Transparency International. It’s resource rich, known mainly for its diamond wealth, and has rolled out the red carpet for foreign firms with what seems like reliable, steady rule of law. This is the place to be.

Some say not so fast. Deloitte Botswana senior manager, Brian Watts, argues that appearance belies a true scale of graft. It is done by multiple actors all throughout the value chain. Watts estimates at least 5% loss due to fraud even in the private sector, in telcos.

Most cases are not disclosed to the public, Watts said during an event for whistleblowers back in March. In mainly state-controlled natural resources sector the stakes are much higher.

It might still seem low compared to Botswana’s neighbors. But unlike its neighbors, Botswana had over 100 companies and individuals, including court justices and local millionaires revealed in last year’s Panama Papers release.

Despite the commodity boom, the country is still extremely poor. The rise that lifted Botswana, mainly lifted the boats of the establishment. Youth unemployment is around 40%, according to the World Bank. A fifth of the country’s two million people live on less than $2 a day. Layoffs in the mining sector are testing people’s patience. Due to changes in the global commodity markets, some big firms like BP and Anglo American have been leaving.

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