Sent to The Times after Professor Ian Taylor criticised my proposal in a previous letter that Botswana should be the first African country admitted to the OECD.


Professor Ian Taylor dismisses my suggestion that Botswana should be admitted to the OECD on the grounds that the country is too poor and cannot be considered an African success story. Readers of the Times may judge for themselves.

Too poor to join the OECD? By the most accurate measure, purchasing power parity, Botswana's GDP per head in 2004 was $9,200. This compares with existing OECD members Turkey ($7,400), Mexico ($9,600) and Poland ($12,000). If Botswana is not an African success story, which country is? Zimababwe with
a GDP per head of $1,900? Or oil rich Nigeria on $1,000? Only South Africa, with vastly superior infrastructure and resources exceeds Botswana in wealth.

Democracy has never been a criterion for OECD membership, however, Botswana's record over the last 40 years may not be spotless, but compares favourably with any other African country, any in Latin America, almost any in Asia, as well as more than half of Europe.

To focus on Botswana's blemishes is bleakly to write off an entire continent.
I would rather celebrate success that far outstrips the rest of Africa and bears comparison with parts of Europe.

Quentin Langley

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