It was a challenging fi rstquarter for the Botswanaeconomy as the Gross DomesticProduct (GDP) expectedlyslowed down. Accordingto Statistics Botswana’s (SB)Q1 data released last week, RealGDP increased by 3.2 per centin the fi rst quarter of 2013 comparedto 5.8 per cent realised inthe same quarter of last year.The data shows that the estimatedGDP at constant prices forthe fi rst quarter of 2013 was P18,689.4 million compared to P19,114.7 million recorded in thefourth quarter of 2012 amountingto a decrease of 2.2 per cent.
The numbers were expected tocome in low as Europe continuesto battle a debt crisis, whilethe US has taken steps to reduceits extensive borrowing andChina, the world’s fastest growingeconomy currently seeing aslowdown in its astronomicalgrowth in recent years.At the annual central bankmedia engagement, Bank of BotswanaGovernor, Linah Mohohlostated that she expected theeconomy in the remaining threequarters to grow below 4percent. The mining sector continuesto struggle though thingslook better for medium to longterm. However, the sector sawa 4.9 per cent decline in the diamondproduction.
Manufacturingdid not fare any better withMeat & Meat products, Beveragesand Textiles sub-sectors allseeing red. SB data revealed thattotal fi nal consumption expenditurerecorded an increase of 9.6per cent in the fi rst quarter of2013, compared to a decrease of0.7per cent in the same quarterof the previous year.The slowdown in growth wascushioned by household expenditureas consumption increasedby 10.1 per cent in the quarterunder review.Fixed capital formation recordeda decrease of 0.1 per centin the quarter under review comparedto an increase of 8.3 percent in the same period last year.
The decline was due to a fall of9.1 per cent in machinery andequipment section.Exports of goods and serviceswent up by 60.8 per cent in thefi rst quarter of 2013 comparedto an increase of 10.4 per centrecorded in the same quarter of2012. According to SB, the relocationof the Diamond TradingCompany to sell in Gaborone isstarting to signifi cantly refl ect onexport numbers.Imports are said to have increasedby 16.7 per cent in thefi rst quarter of 2013, comparedto 12.6 per cent increase registeredin the same quarter of2012.