Botswana’s new president, sworn in on Sunday as the landlocked country’s fifth post-colonial leader, said he would give priority to tackling youth unemployment and diversifying its economy.
Retired teacher Mokgweetsi Masisi, who takes over from former army general Ian Khama, inherits a state with a reputation as one of Africa’s rare political and economic success stories.
But he faces a huge task in attempting to reduce its dependence on the diamond trade while creating more jobs after collapsing commodity prices tipped it into recession in 2015, says a Reuters report.
“We still seek to build a Botswana in which sustained development is underpinned by economic diversification,” Masisi told a cheering crowd in parliament. “One of my top priorities ... will be to address the problem of unemployment especially amongst the young.”
Botswana, with a population of some 2 million, has a jobless rate of around 20 per cent, with youth unemployment thought to be much higher.
Khama, 65, and a son of the country first president Seretse, bowed out after two five-year terms in a scripted succession that compelled him to hand over power to his deputy.
Masisi becomes only Botswana’s third leader outside the Khama dynasty since its independence from Britain in 1966.
As part of efforts to branch out of diamonds, he also said his government would scale up access to technical education and set up initiatives in tourism, mining, beef and financial services.