Botswana, the world’s largest diamond producer, by volume. With its economy based on the mining sector, the diamond industry alone contributes up to 33% to the Gross Domestic Product, Botswana has been one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and greatest success stories in recent years.
The major diamond producer, De Beers, relocated its sales and marketing functions from London to Gaborone in November 2013. Investors and business people flock to Botswana, not only because it is the least corrupt country in Africa (according to the Global Corruption Index) but also because Forbes has rated it the continent’s fourth-best place to do business.
When it comes to tourism, Botswana’s natural beauty, stable economy and thriving business sector have made it the third most visited country in Africa. In 2010 it welcomed more tourists, 2,145,079 (Department of Tourism statistics), than the number of its citizens – a fact that speaks volumes about its desirability as both a holiday and investment destination.
Gaborone, in south-east Botswana, was strategically chosen as the capital city for its proximity to South Africa as well as its already established railway lines and infrastructure. The city’s most visited tourist attraction is the Three Dikgosi Monument, a tribute to Botswana’s early beginnings. The bronze sculpture pays tribute to its three founding chiefs: Khama II, Sebele I and Bathoen.
No city in Botswana can illustrate the development of infrastructure better than Gaborone. The capital may have been established only in the 1960s, but today it is dotted with the silhouettes of tower cranes, development sites and skyscrapers.
Infrastructure is one of the biggest drivers of the tourism sector, the advances can be seen from rooftop venues such as the Sky Lounge. This exclusive membership-only venue provides panoramic views from the 19th floor of the iTowers building, currently the city’s tallest. A twin tower is under construction. The metropolis below is testament to the city’s expansion and the determination of the Batswana people.
Batswana are genuinely warm people; one can hear their sincerity as they wish one another ‘Dumela’ (‘Good day’) wherever they go. They work hard, but play just as hard. The Masa Centre is proof of that. This impressive 46,000 square metre entertainment complex, with restaurants, hotel and spa, leaves nothing to be desired. It also houses the country’s first 3D cinema. The rooftop Absolut Bar is an ideal place to bid farewell to another day.
Shoppers will find plenty of variety among Gaborone’s four modern shopping malls and other outlets, whether they’re looking for African curios, designer clothes or groceries. The oldest is Main Mall, in the bustling heart of the capital, where you can buy just about anything. Nearby is Government Enclave, home to government ministries and the South African Development Community headquarters.
But Gabs, as the locals affectionately refer to it, is more than just concrete. The city is nestled between the Kgale and Oodi hills. The ‘Sleeping Giant’, as Kgale Hill is known, is popular with hikers, and the resident baboons make the one-hour walk that much more thrilling. The hilltop is the city’s natural observation deck, standing 1,287 metres above sea level. It also maps out the city’s rapid urban expansion.
The Yacht Club, on the edge of Gaborone Dam, is a local watering hole, especially popular at sundown and caters for sailing, canoeing and rowing. It is open to members and guests. It organises a number of social events every year, the biggest of which is the annual raft race.
A few kilometres from the central business district is Mokolodi Nature Reserve, which offers a close encounter with Africa’s Big Five and the bush. Giraffe and rhino tracking is a sought-after experience that is perfect for those ‘Kodak’ moments.
Gaborone has much to be proud of, the country has been selected to host the 2nd African Youth Games was held in May 2014. Gaborone is the host to this international 10 day competition, with 54 countries and 2,500 young atheletes participating in 21 sports at 11 venues, including the national stadium. It is the biggest multi-sport event in the country’s history and gives Gaborone an opportunity to stand out among the continent’s brightest stars.