FAST-GROWING settlements in this, one of the most economically sophisticated countries in Africa, are indicative of the development and achievements realised in Botswana since independence was gained in 1966.

View overlooking Khama Crescent towards the new Botswana Telecommunications Headquarters building, Barclays House and Poso House. Inset: The new airport building at Maun.


Located in the south-eastern corner of Botswana on the Ngotwane River, Gaborone was chosen as the country's capital in 1966 due to its proximity to the railway line and because of the availability of water. A railway station prior to independence, the city derives its name from Kgosi (chief) Gaborone of the BaTlokwa tribe.

The planning of this new capital was undertaken in 1962 by the Public Works Department, which at that time did not expect the population of the the town ever to exceed 20 000. Nine years later, however, Gaborone had already grown beyond that figure, and continues to grow at an astonishing rate. As at the the 1981 census the population numbered 59 957, while the figure for 1991 was a stagerring 133 791 people. Such rapid growth has resulted in achronic shortage of housing, while roads newly widened become congested after only a few months. Gaborone is nevetheless a pleasant place in which to live - even its so-called deficiencies have their bright side, for the city's development needs provide business opportunities for both local entrepreneurs and foreign investors, with construction ongoing everywhere.

Gaborone's financial disrict.

As the capital city, Gaborone is naturally the seat of government. Government ministries, the National Assembly, the House of Chiefs and the Archives are all grouped around an attractive park called Government Enclave. A rock garden with a number of small pools faces the statue of Botswana's first president, Sir Seretse Khama, so positioned on the 20th anniversary of Botswana's independence, when the capital wa declared a city.

Opposite the enclave is The Mall, Gaborone's first and most popular shopping area. A well known hotel, several embassies, commercial banks, the outlet for the government newspaper and numerous shops and offices encircle The Mall. Elsewhere in the city there are numerous shopping areas, with shops and take-away food outlets intermingled with industries in the three industrial areas. Other hotels are located withina 5 to 50-kilometre radius of the city centre or within the city limits, while construction of a 200-room international hotel has been completed, and it is now operational.

Aerial view of Gaborone, one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

The modern Sir Seretse Khama Airport, situated eight kilometres from the city, is used by numerous airlines, including British Airways which flies directly to Gaborone via Johannesburg. The railway line from South Africa passes through Gaborone on its way to Zimbabwe, and roads are tarred from the busy city all the waay up to the Zambian border at Karungula and the South Africa border at Ramatlabama in the south. Gaborone boasts the country's first flyover, opened to traffic in 1988 - a sweeping four-lane over the railway line onto the Molepole road.

Despite its rapid growth, the city retains much of its rural atmosphere. Houses are surrounded by spacious lawns and gardens and there are many green walkways. The Gaborone Game Reserve, opened to the public in 1988, provides the opportunity for city dwellers to glimpse some of the country's wildlife in a natural setting, almost at their doorsteps.

The International Fair held in the city is an annual event. Footbal matches, track races and cultural gatherings are frequent occurrences at the National Stadium, while music and drame are performed at a number of venues, including Maitisong Cultural Centre. Lectures and symposia are held at the National Museum and Art Gallery, or at the University of Botswana.


The main street of Francistown shows the impressive development of this centre.

Combining elements of the old and the new, Francistown in Botswana's first town and the oldest commercial centre. It derives its name from Daniel Francis, a prospector and trader who was a central figure in the gold rush to the region in the 1860s. Long before Gaborone was anything more than a village, Francistown was established to serve this mining industry and was a vigorously developing centre. Although somewhaat overshadowed in recent years by the tremendous growth of Gaborone, the town, sometimes affectionately referred to as the 'old lady of Botswana', is once again experiencing boom conditions and considerable expansion.

Francistown's establishment as a town is owed to the presence of gold in the vicinity. Thiss precious metal had been mined long before the colonial era, with world workings discovered which date back as far as 1100 and 1400 AD. Early European explorers discovered the remains of these prehistori mines in the mid-nineteenth century and, in 1880, Francis negotiated with King Lobengulaa for mining and other rights. His company, Tati Concessions, eventually hired a surveyor and, by 1897, the streets for a new town had been laid out. The town grew quickly and during the same year a hotel, three banks and various business premisies had been established - amongst the earliest businessmen in Francistown were James Haskins, the Grenfell brothers, Stem, Feddeman, Susman and Rounoivell. Over the years it became a sprawling township, and is today one of Botswana's largest industrial centres.

A phenomenal amount of growth was experienced during the 80s, with thenumber of operating industrial units representing a growth rate of 305 percent over a period of four years. Gold mining operations still continue in the Francistown area. Not all of the small mining operations are merely retreating dumps. The search for gold in the Francistown area and beyond is being actively pursued and it is anticipated that other deposits will come on line in the not too distant future.

A third abattoir was comissioned at Francistown during the 1989/90 financial year, with the plant obtaining veterinary approval to export its product to South Africa and the EC. The Francistown abattoir has a capacity of 400 cattle and 150 small stock sheep and goats per day, with the 1991/92 financial year one of the best years for the three abattoirs in the last decade. Total throughput for the period improved and the total of 213635 cattle was the highest since the 1983/84 financial year.

Blue Jacket Square, Francistown.

Industries established here include manufacture of gaskets, clothing, knitwear, shoes and accessories, textiles, ceramics and chemicals. Numerous service industries flourish, particularly those related to the construction and transport trades. Francistown's hinterland is a vast area stretching to the Okavango Swamps and the Zambian and Zimbabwean borders, with retail and whoilesale traders stocking a wide range of goods to serve their far-flung customers.

The educational sector of Francistown is also receiving considerable attention. The Centre for Continuing Education, a faculty of the University of Botswana, has always maintained a presence in Francistown. A construction project amalgamating the various facilities of the centre includes two buildings specifically designed to house administration facilities, classrooms and a library resource centre.

Situatedd at the confluence of the Tati and Inchwe rivers, Francistown - whose population for 1991 was projected at over 59000 - is also fortunate to possess an adequate supply of water from the Sashe Dam, a few kilometres to the south-west. Electricity is supplied via overhead lines from Selebi-Phikwe. Easy access by road to Lingstone, Bulawayp and Gaborone has been made possible by completion of an extensive roads programme.

Historically, Francistown has been a successful trading centre and, to serve the various needs of a diverse group of consumers, it has to develop an extensive railway network to meet this demand. The construction of office blocks and shopping centres is often regarded as an accurate measure of a town's growth and prosperity. The changing skyline of Francistown is a testament to the activity which is consistently taking place, especially in the retail sector.

The largest and one of the most recent and impressive developments regarding the addition of retail and office space in Francistown has been Diagonal Plaza, which is set to become the hub of Francistown's retail trading. The project, completed in 1992, has already attracted major retailers such as Savell's and John Craig, with other tenants including Smart Centre and Barclays Bank. The OK Centre comprises Francistown's first Kentucky Fried Chicken as well as the OK Bazaar.

Developments in the centre of town also include Noric House, a three-storey shopping and office complex, while the well known chain store of Woolworths has had a presence in the centre of Francistown since 1990. Extension of the central business district is yet another indication of the rapid growth occurring in Francistown. Such extension includes the Bank of Botswana, while construction on the new Bank of Botswana building commenced in early 1993 with the 22 month contract scheduled for completion in late 1994.

To facilitate the extension of the CBD a considerable amount of land has been subdivided to make way for new projects and ensure future development. One such project which has been completed is the addition of two three-storey shopping and office centres opposite Thapama Lodge. Extensive parking facilities are also under construction to cope with the increasing amount of traffic that Francistown is experiencing as it continues to serve its people and those to neigbhouring towns such as Sowa and Orapa, as well as people from as far afield as Zambia and Zimbabwe who make use of the many facilities which are offered.


Before independence Lobatse was one of the candidates for the site of the nation's new capital. It is higher in altitude than Gaborone (Otse mountain, the highest point in the country, is only a few kilometers away) and hence cooler in the summer. It is also conveniently situated on the railway route - another consideration in the location of the capital - and only the fact that water supply was limited and was unlikely to improve prevented Lobatse from becoming the seat of the new government.

The town is nevertheless the site of the High Court as well as the Geological Survey headquarters. Situated 70 kilometers south of Gaborone, it is serviced by good roads and has a rail connection and an airship. In 1991 the population of Lobatse was over 26000, representing 8 percent of Botswana's urban population and 1,9 percent of the national population. During the period 1981-1991 the average annual population growth rate of Lobatse was 3,2 percent and it is estimated that during the period 1991-2000 this rate will decline to 3,1 percent.

Tarring of roads, electrification of certain areas, completion of a clinic and the opening of further primary schools have been some of the town's achievements in recent years.

A pipeline from Gaborone and a dam at Nnywane have helped to alleviate the town's earlier water problems and this has led to the establishment of several important industries in Lobatse. As it is the centre of the cattle industry in the country, the industrial base is dominated by the Botswana Meat Commission, which has its main abattoir at Lobatse. Animals are driven overland from all over Botswana, across the Kalahari and even from Ghanzi, 500 kilometers away. The abattoir at Lonbatse has a meat and canning plant attached to it, which handles the increasing amounts of beef exported to many parts of the world. A tannery established in Lobatse has created several hundred jobs and has increased the value added and foreign exchange earnings of the manufacturing sector.

Wholesale distributors Sefalana Sa Botswana, one of Botswana's first public companies with citizens holding nearly 90 percent of its shares, have their head office in Lobatse. Tiro ya Diatla, which utilizes the wool of karakul sheep to weave rugs and tapestries, had its origins in Lobatse. This company has been re-organised with its handicraft sales outlet and certain other functions under the auspices of Botswana craft. Other industries of significance in the town are BMC Tannery, Sugar Industries, Lobatse Breweries and Lobatse Clayworks.


In Maun, which is the hub of the northern tourist industry, people seem to be constantly in transit, never staying very long - giving the impression that living in this centre is like living in an airport lobby. This is the place where safari companies pick up their clients as well as supplies to take back to the Okavango camps, and where visitors usually catch air flights back to Gaborone or Francistown to connect with homeward flights. Maun nevertheless does have its permanent residents, and it boasts an interesting history of its own. The traditional capital of the BaTawana - one of the Setswana-speaking tribes - it is situated in the north-west district, at the lower end of the Okavango Delta, and every year the district experiences floodwater which comes from the highlands of Angola. Maun is well within the tropical zone and is generally warm to hot. Although it is the traditional home of the BaTawana, it also has residents of many other groups, such as the OvaHerero, whose distinctive national costume adds a note of colour to the town - Herero women dress in a patchwork of bright fabrics.

Maun is the administrative centre for the Ngamiland district. With many of the residents of Maun, including the BaTawana, OvaHerero and Baei, being cattle owners, the Maun abattoir, built by the Botswana Meat Commission in 1993, serves as an outlet. Established in Maun are branches of both Barclays Bank of Botswana and Standard Chartered Bank of Botswana, it boasts a hospital, and an air charter service and representatives of most of the safari companies in the region are located here.


This is the largesttraditional village in Botswana and one of the largest in Africa. Serowe has been the capital of the BaNgwato ethnic group since 1902, when the centre moved there from Old Plapye (east of present-day Palapye). It is the home of the Khama family, traditional leaders (dikgosi) of the BaNgwato group, which provided Botswana with its charismatic first president, Sir Seretse Khama. Khama III, also known as Khama the Great, who was one of the three dikgosi who petitioned the British government to establish the Bechuanaland Protectorate, is buried on a hill overlooking the town, his grave marked by a bronze duiker, the sacred animal of the BaNgwato. The peaceful family burial site is also the final resting place of Sir Seretse Khama.

Serowe was also the home of the internationally acclaimed writer Bessie Head, who wrote most of her novels and historical works about Serowe (or a fictitious village that greatly resembles it). Ms. Head, who died in 1986, is also buried in Serowe.

Swaeng Hill School, the site of the first experiment which eventually led to the Botswana Bridge movement , is situated near the village airstrip. Patrick van Rensburg, who originated the Brigades in Botswana, was the principal of this school.

There are several other features of interest in this historical settlement. Flat-topped Thathaganyana Hill, in the centre of the village, dates back to the eleventh century and still has the remains of an early settlement. There is also an informative museum, the Khama III Memorial Museum, opened in 1985 by a group of local people which included Lenyetse Seretse, who donated his residence, the 'Red House', as it was known, as the premises for the museum. The museum's main attractions are the personal effects of Khama III and a collection of insects from all over Africa. There is also a growing number of permanent displays, including a collection of snakes of Botswana, while regular visiting exhibitions are staged by the National Museum and Art Gallery in Gaborone. A large ceremonial kgotla has the rondavels of the chief and the most important families built around it. Serowe also boasts a hospital and a teachers' training college.


Situated to the south of Gaborone, Ramotswa is the traditional capital of the BaLete people, who are believed to originate from the Nguni, unlike most of the Setswana speakers in Botswana. They have, however, lived so long amongst the Tswana that they are indistinguishable in both language and custom.

Botswana's sole supplier of wheaten flour is situated in the village and has been responsible for a large increase in employment opportunities and prosperity in the area. The success of the mill in Ramotswa has raised hopes that it may be the forerunner of many other such enterprises. The village also has a small engineering works specialising in the manufacture of steel furniture, trailers and metal products.

A few kilometres to the south of Ramotswa, in the satellite village of Otse, is the Campbill Rankoromane Community, an educational centre that runs a school for the disabled, as well as a small factory that produces handicrafts and simple but beautifully designed pine furniture. These products are either sold on site or at an outlet in Gaborone. Otse is also the site of Meoding College, a secondary school built by the London Missionary Society in the early days before independence and which remains one of the best secondary schools in the country.


With approximately 41,3 million tonnes of copper and nickel ore deposits believed to exist in the area around Selebi-Phikwe, this centre owes its present state of development primarily to the presence of the copper/nickel mine which employs over 4000 people, making it the single largest employer in the country.

Selebi-Phikwe's regional development programme continues to attract interest from potential investors. Employment from the programme reached a peak of 1700 in 1991 and then fell to 1050 in 1992 - it has been estimated that total employment from assisted projects could reach 2500 by 1994. The programme is to be extended for a further three years.

With a population in excess of 55000 people, Selebi-Phikwe has a modern shopping mall and a hotel which provides an entertainment centre for the people of the town. There is an airport with services to Johannesburg and Bulawayo, with internal flights operated by Air Botswana and Okavango Air Services. Good roads connect Selebi-Phikwe with major centres to the north and south, and there are car hire facilities in the town. This is also the venue of the annual trade and cattle show.


This village, lying some 20 kilometres from Gaborone, is set against a backdrop of picturesque rocky cliffs, with the community offering an intriguing glimpse of life in rural Botswana.

This is also the setting for a number of innovative experiments. Pelegano Village Industries (PVI), for example, utilises agricultural waste products and wild plant materials for handicrafts. The husks of maize, which in the past were thrown away, are made into dolls and artificial flowers, and dried branches and seed pods are used in floral displays or strung on chords to make curtains. There is a pottery workshop which uses clay found in the surrounding hills to make unusual figurines, masks, bowls and beads. PVI also has a metal workshop which makes, among other things, a type of wheelchair which has wide, soft wheels for getting around in soft sand - unlike standard wheelchairs which are useless in Botswana. The workshop also repairs ploughs, bicycles and trailers. An offshoot of PVI is a new company which makes jam, fruit juice and dried fruit products from indigenous fruits and melons. Attached to this is a consultancy firm which experiments with methods of growing fruit and nut trees without irrigation.

Tshwaragano Craft Centre is operated under the auspices of one of Botswana's many brigades. These were established in 1965 to train primary school leaves for various trades, aiming to cover the costs of training by sales of their products and skills.


In the early 70's there were a mere 60 dwellers in the region called Jwana, the site of the present-day Jwaneng, which was built by Debswana to serve the diamond mine. This area was surveyed in preparation for the building of a town in 1978 and, a year later, a township authority was appointed. After that, growth was rapid. In 1981 census - one year before production began at the Jwaneng diamond mine - lists the population as over 5500, while the population for 1991 was approximately 16609.

Planned by Debswanna in conjunction with the Botswana government through the Department of Town and Regional Planning, this is an open town in which free enterprise is encouraged. Many of the businesses already established in Jwaneng are branches of firms based either in Gaborone or Francistown. They include engineering and building supply agencies, general produce stores, restaurants and representatives from the Water Utilities Corporation, the Botswana Housing Corporation, Botswana Power Corporation and Botswana Telecommunications Corporation. Both Barclays Bank of Botswana and Standard Chartered Bank of Botswana have offices in Jwaneng.

There is a small hotel and recreation facilities include a golf club, tennis court, bowling green and swimming pool. Jwaneng also boasts one of the most sophisticated hospitals in the country.

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