Botswana is a small country, with 2.2 million people who would probably be in great shape if it weren’t for the high incidence of HIV/AIDS. It has a stable government, a literacy rate approaching 90%, and a GDP per capita of over $16,000.
The nation’s big business is diamonds, but tourism generates a lot of business, too. Much of that tourism is related to the nation’s wildlife. Mark and Delia Owens were among the first scientists to do in-depth research of the Botswana’s four-footed inhabitants, arriving in 1974 to work on their doctoral dissertations. They spent almost ten years in the desert under harsh conditions. Cry of the Kalahari was published in 1984 and tells about their primitive camp, their research process, and the many wonderful discoveries they made about the region’s wildlife.
It’s pretty clear in the book that they prefer animals to people. They note how awkward it feels when they visit town for supplies. Let’s face it, most people would lose their minds living for months on end in the middle of a remote desert. That’s remarkable because the Owenses have become major figures in African wildlife conservation – and they have had plenty of controversies – ranging from casual racism to murder – follow them from Botswana to Zambia to Idaho.
As for investing, Botswana is probably too small for most public investors, but it has plenty of potential as a market to expand into. It’s not the Next Big Thing, but it has decent potential, and that’s nice.