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Economy grew by 3% in 2019

MBONGENI MGUNI
Gaborone CBD PIC. BASHI KIKIA
The local economy expanded by three percent last year, compared to 4.5 percent in 2018 due largely to lower output in the fourth quarter from the mining sector, particularly diamonds, coal and soda ash. 

Figures released by Statistics Botswana this morning show that 2019’s growth was the lowest since 2015, when the economy shrank by 1.7 pecent due to an across the board slowdown in the mining sector. Government had expected the economy to grow by 3.6 percent in 2019, while the International Monetary Fund had projected 3.5 percent. 

The economy grew by 1.6 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to 3.1 percent in the third quarter, three percent in the second and 4.2 percent in the first.

“Growth (in the fourth quarter) was attributed to real value added of water and electricity, finance and business services, and transport and communications,” Statistics Botswana said in a statement.

“All other industries recorded positive growth of more than 1.1 percent except agriculture and mining which declined by one percent and 8.1 percent respectively.”

The data agency

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said the drop in mining in the fourth quarter was influenced by lower value add in the diamond, coal and soda ash sectors. 

“Diamond production in carats went down by seven percent while coal and soda ash production in tonnes decreased by 17.2% and 27.2% respectively in the fourth quarter.

“Diamonds are luxury goods and therefore are bound to fluctuate due to appetite of reliable customers as the world is highly affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Coal had a negative growth due to subdued uptake from the Botswana Power Corporation.”

While government had initially projected growth of 4.4 percent in 2020, the Bank of Botswana on Wednesday said this figure would be ‘much lower’ due to the impact of the coronavirus. Analysts at Econsult have said the economy could shrink by as much as four percent this year.



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