NEWS 2005

 

Botswana launches 3rd Human Development Report

Gaborone: 31 March 2005: Despite its extensive telecommunications infrastructure and one of the highest Internet bandwidths in Africa, Botswana has so far been unable to leverage communications and information technologies to help improve the lives of its people and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the global marketplace. This is the conclusion of the country’s third Human Development Report launched today by the Minister of Communication, Science & Technology, Ms Pelonomi Venson

The report entitled “Harnessing Science and Technology for Human Development” makes the case that human development is intrinsically linked to freedom from poverty and disease and acknowledges that the widening gap between the “haves” and “have nots’, both within and across nations is exacerbated by lack of equity in terms of sharing resources.

This year’s report, like the Botswana Human Development Reports (BHDRs) before it, is a think piece and advocacy tool on topical development issues in Botswana.

The report captures in graphic terms the reversal in human development that the HIV/AIDS scourge has inflicted on Botswana. All the extraordinary levels of achievement the country had scored by the beginning of the 1990s are under considerable threat by the HIV/AIDS pandemic argues the report.

Rapid and sustained economic growth attributable to the mineral wealth, a disciplined approach to macroeconomic management stable democracy and good governance, the country has build over the last three decades is all in danger, unless a solution is found immediately to the HIV/AIDS scourge, says the report.

The country would also need to diversify the economy away from dependence on minerals.

Throughout, the report states the symbiotic relationship that exists between human development and advancement in science and technology as a result of improved human conditions.

While the report acknowledges that over the years the country had developed an elaborate infrastructural network, it also states that Botswana belongs to a “large group of developing countries that are neither involved in Science & Technology innovation nor its diffusion at any significant level.”

“By adopting the theme of “Harnessing Science and Technology for Human Development”, we hope to bring into focus how technology can accelerate the pace of human development in Botswana, and how human development in turn can promote the creation and implementation of technological breakthroughs in Botswana, says the UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Bjoern Foerde, adding:

“The report therefore explores Botswana’s experiences with science and technology for human development, as well as the possibilities that exist for the country to leverage technology to further advance human development”.

With its strong fiscal position the country meets the basic requirements for developing a strong Science and Technology capability and capacity. But so far the results to tap into that potential have not been encouraging, says the report.

The report introduces two new indices, a Technology Achievement Index (TAI) index and an Info State index. The TAI is the measure of a county’s achievements in four areas: technology creation, diffusion of recent innovations, diffusion of old innovations and human skills.

The TAI was first introduced in the UNDP 2001 global Human Development Report on “Making New Technologies Work for Human Development”. However, due to lack of data, a TAI was not calculated for Botswana.

The BHDR 2005 has calculated the TAI for Botswana at 0.377, which places Botswana at about 35th place as at 2001. This establishes Botswana as a potential lender in terms of technology achievement. At the top of the pack is Finland with a TAI of 0.77 and on the extreme end Mozambique with the lowest score at 0.066.

In the report Botswana is ranked 81 as regards the country’s Infostate. At this raking, Botswana’s Infostate Index is 50.3, which is comparatively less than that of its neighbours South Africa and Namibia who have an index of 74.5 and 53.7 respectively.  Sweden is ranked 1st with an Infostate 230.5. The Infostate of a country indicates the relative digital divide between and among countries.

Because the report is based on 2001/02 data, Botswana retains its 2002 Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.59. What is interesting is that the Human Development Index (HDI) is calculated based on statistics from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Based on this data, the HDI is 0.67.

Much of the difference between UNDP and CSO’s HDI is basically attributable to the ongoing debate on the life expectancy on Botswana. UNDP estimates that the life expectancy in Botswana has been drastically affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, while CSO though acknowledging that the epidemic has had an impact on HIV/AIDS estimates that the impact is not as much as UNDP estimates.

As an agenda for the future development of the country the government is challenged to seriously address issues of: HIV/AIDS, poverty reduction, economic diversification and private sector development, development of research innovation systems, as well as the development of ICT framework.

For more information contact Marx Garekwe at Tel: (267) 3952121 ext. 242, mobile 72104301 - E-mail: marx.garekwe@undp.org

Or

Constance Formson on 3952121 ext. 218 – E-mail: constance.formson@undp.org

http://www.unbotswana.org.bw/undp/news_310305.html