With our constant price increases in Zimbabwe, one of our favourite pastimes is to compare what we pay for a certain item with what our neighbours in SADC pay for the same service. On 20 May 2022, the government of Botswana gazetted new taxi and bus fares for residents in Gaborone in response to the increasing fuel prices much like Zimbabwe has. Botswana’s economy is considered to be in good shape compared to ours so how do the prices compare?

Ride TypeBotswana in PulaBotswana USDZimbabwe in ZWLZimbabwe USD
Shared Taxi (per passenger per trip)P8.00$0.66$420 ZWL$1.00
Special Taxi (per trip)P33.00$2.72$1 260 ZWL$3.00
Mini-bus/ Kombi (per trip)P7.00$0.58$250.00 ZWL$0.50-$1.00
Long-distance bus (tarred road)P0.35 per km$0.029$24 ZWL per km$0.0571 per km
Long-distance (gravel and sandy roads)P0.38 per km$0.031$24 ZWL per km$0.0571 per km

Some interesting insights can be gleaned from this information:

  • For the largest part Zimbabwe and Botswana pay the same fares for the same distances. Yes, local trips cost US$3.00 by special taxi in Zimbabwe too which is slightly more than the fare in Botswana but in the grand scheme of things, this is largely the same amount.
  • Interestingly buses are allowed to charge higher fares when they travel on bad roads in Botswana. Here long-distance busfares are largely unregulated. In fact, our fares are a result of supply and demand. You would think the government would trust market forces with their exchange rate too given these results.
  • The difference in fares between Botswana and Zimbabwe can be attributed to the perennial change problem. Service providers have no choice but to charge round figure amounts as they will struggle to pay back change if they introduce prices like US$0.58. Coins were never a thing in Zimbabwe. I transact fairly regularly but have not seen the quarter dollar in years.