Botswana’s Diamond Trail

For Helicon Magazine I created a column to show off Bristol final year student’s innovative research. Today’s tease is by James Hunt (Politics and Economics BSc). He digs into Botswana’s diamond mines to analyse the country’s transformation. 


Botswana is an African Miracle. 50 years ago, it gained independence from the British with limited infrastructure, no industry, measly levels of exports and a GDP per capita of $80. Yes, $80 per person. Today, it is a flourishing middle-income economy with the highest literacy rates in Africa, top scores in terms of corruption and as such, it is a leader amongst its neighbours. It seems quite clear, therefore, there is something to learn from Botswana.

By modelling the country’s successes since independence, I hope to be able to construct a model of development that can be repeated elsewhere. Admittedly, Botswana has had some luck. The discovery of diamonds came about just 6 years after independence, and that is, without doubt, a foundation behind their development. This is, however, a lesson in itself. Botswana has successfully defeated the resource curse where many developing nations have struggled.

Natural resources in the emerging world are usually synonymous with corruption, civil war and exploitation amongst other consequences. By analysing Botswana’s progress, I aim to be able to outline policies that the rest of the emerging world can follow in their search for economic development.

This piece was originally published for Helicon Magazine’s weekly Features column

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