The number of vehicles actively registered on the country’s roads rose to 613,845 last year, about six percent above the figure in 2020, as the opening up of the economy from COVID-19 helped boost purchases.
The national vehicle population, as measured and reported by Statistics Botswana, fell marginally in 2020 to 579,789 from 601,190 in 2019, as the pandemic contracted incomes and was accompanied by movement restrictions.
As a result, the pace of new vehicle registrations declined for the first time in at least 10 years, while the national vehicle population fell due to some vehicles being put out of active registration.
Figures from Statistics Botswana released this week indicate that by the end of 2021, the country had nearly 380 vehicles per 1,000 people within the adult population, putting it among the top 70 countries in terms of vehicles per capita.
According to the data agency, much of the national vehicle population is privately owned, accounting for 98.2% of the total, while government vehicles constituted 1.8 percent by the end of last year.
Researchers noted that the increasing vehicle population was weighing negatively on the country’s infrastructure and producing other adverse events.
“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,” the researchers stated. “This growth is also likely to negatively impact the durability or life span of national roads, particularly in the more populated areas such as the eastern part of Botswana.”
According to the data agency, a total of 17,277 road accidents occurred in 2021, registering an increase of 14.6% from the 15,075 accidents recorded in 2020. The numbers for 2020, however, are distorted by the movement restrictions imposed as a response to COVID-19.
Analysts say the growth of the country’s vehicle stock has largely been due to the influx of cheaper, used imports from Japan, the United Kingdom, and China, as well as growth in both the economically active population and incomes within this sector.