The national vehicle stock, or population of private and government vehicles registered in the country, dropped by 3.6 percent last year to 579,879 vehicles, the first ever fall in the past ten years.
Data released by Statistics Botswana this week indicates that the drop was due to lower registrations of private vehicles, with the national stock in this category falling from 588,567 in 2019 to 567,080 vehicles in 2020.
The number of active government vehicles, meanwhile, rose from 12,623 vehicles in 2019 to 12,709 vehicles last year.
While Statistics Botswana researchers did not provide reasons for the trends, analysts said the fall in private vehicles was largely due to the closure of borders last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the economic downturn among local vehicle buyers. This assertion is also reflected in the decrease of 38.1% in first-time registrations of private vehicle last year, from 67,434 in 2019 to 41,733.
Despite the fall last year, the national vehicle population is still among the highest in Africa, when measured against the number of people and roads in the country.
"The increase in vehicle stock over the years has brought with it some major challenges, for example, an increase in road accidents and congestion on the roads especially in cities," Statistics Botswana researchers said.
"This growth is also likely to negatively impact on the durability or life span of the national roads, particularly in the more populated areas such as the eastern part of Botswana."