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Key findings
  • Unemployment tops the list of most important problems that Batswana youth want their government to address, followed by crime and security, corruption, management of the economy, and health.
  • Botswana’s youth have more education than their elders. More than nine in 10 young Batswana (92%) have secondary or post-secondary schooling, compared to 67% in the 36-55 age group and 21% in the over-55 age group.
  • But they are also more likely to be unemployed: Six in 10 young Batswana (60%) say they are looking for a job, compared to 55% of middle-aged and 24% of older citizens.
  • Fewer than half of young citizens say the government is doing a good job of addressing their priorities, including reducing crime (41%), managing the economy (35%), fighting corruption (33%), and creating jobs (14%).
  • Fewer than one-third of youth approve of the performance of their elected local government councillor (31%), their member of Parliament (25%), and their president (23%).
  • Only 15% of young respondents describe their personal living conditions as “fairly good” or “very good,” though their assessments are less gloomy than those of older cohorts.
  • Young Batswana are less likely than their elders to engage in political and civic activities, including voting, contacting leaders, attending community meetings, and joining others to raise an issue.

Despite its impressive record of economic growth (Sunday Standard, 2024), Botswana is a  country in the throes of a tremendous unemployment challenge – particularly youth  unemployment (APAnews, 2019).  

According to the most recent Quarterly Multi-Topic Survey, the unemployment rate among  youth (15-35 years) rose from 33.5% to 34.4% in the third quarter of 2023, compared to the national average of 25.9% (Statistics Botswana, 2023; World Bank, 2024).  

Botswana’s revised National Youth Policy (2010), which is currently undergoing review (Daily  News Botswana, 2023), identifies 12 key strategic areas for government attention, including employment, poverty and hunger, education, skills development and training, and health (Botswana Labour Market Observatory, 2010). The government’s latest effort to curb  unemployment comes in the form of the National Employment Policy, which seeks to create  sustainable employment opportunities and is designed to complement the country’s Vision  2036 and National Development Plan 11 (Republic of Botswana, 2021).  

The 2023 Global Youth Development Index ranks Botswana 142nd out of 183 countries when it  comes to promoting youth education, employment, health and well-being, equality and  inclusion, peace and security, and political and civic participation, down from 108th position  in 2020 (Commonwealth Secretariat 2021, 2024). It trails regional peers Mauritius (No. 69), Namibia (No. 126), and South Africa (No. 141). 

Afrobarometer survey findings provide an on-the-ground look at the situation of youth in  Botswana. Batswana youth (defined here as aged 18-35) have more education than their  elders but are also more likely to be unemployed. In a list that includes corruption, crime, and  management of the economy, unemployment is by far the most important problem that  young Batswana want their government to address.  

Like their elders, youth are critical of the government’s performance on creating jobs,  narrowing gaps between rich and poor, fighting corruption, managing the economy, improving the living standards of the poor, and reducing crime, and few approve of the  performance of their elected officials. But survey findings also suggest that many young  Batswana are disconnected from political processes and are not taking full advantage of available avenues to make their voices and priorities heard.

Asafika Mpako

Asafika is the communications coordinator for Southern Africa

Stephen Ndoma

Stephen is the assistant project manager for Southern Africa