With a population of just over 2.5 million citizens, and thousands of square kilometres of land, most of it unoccupied, Botswana government grants only 200 citizenship application per annum.
This was confirmed by Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Annah Mokgethi, this week in response to a parliamentary question, but she said the figure excludes spouses of citizens.
“A total number of 1216 people were granted citizenship since January 2016 to date, and 569 of them were foreign spouses,” said Mokgethi.
She said that eligibility for Botswana citizenship is that the resident must have spent 10 years in the country for naturalization and five years for foreign spouses, have sufficient knowledge of any local language, and must have contributed significantly to the economy of the country.
“Other additional considerations is that the applicant must be in possession of necessary scarce skill to contribute to the country in realizing its development agenda, which includes the vision of becoming a knowledge based economy”.
She said the 200 quota does not include spouses of citizens.
There were suggestions that the government should increase the quota to 400 since there are many skilled expatriates who reside in the country but have not been granted citizenship.
This comes at a time when the economy is struggling to create 1000 jobs a year, according to the National Development Plan 11 Mid-Term Review Report released last year.
The minister said that a total of 80 Batswana have renounced Botswana citizenship since 2019 for reasons she did not disclose.
Mokgethi said her ministry is currently reviewing the Citizenship Act to address the issue of dual citizenship among others.
Meanwhile, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi recently suspended the Director of Immigration Caroline Okello-Wengi together with her deputy. Reasons for their suspensions were not disclosed.