Situated 436km north of Gaborone, Francistown is one of Botswana’s oldest towns and has grown into the second largest city in the country, as well as Botswana’s industrial and transport hub – thanks to its location and infrastructure.
The history of the town is everywhere you look. Old abandoned mines surround the town and although most of the supply stores of old are long gone, the city center still has many old, historic buildings which contrast beautifully with the colourful and vibrant local markets throughout the town.
Francistown has a young, lively and vibrant culture and a warm atmosphere with much to offer. Francistown can now boast its own international airport along with the Supa Ngwao Museum, which houses exhibitions of the culture and history of the Kalanga people and the early history of Francistown; Birds and Game Botswana, an animal orphanage established by Unchartered Africa; Tachila Nature Reserve, 8200 hectares of preserved natural habitat established on Tati Company land and Domboshaba, a stone wall site that dates back to the Iron Age and contains excellent examples of ancient stone walls.
Francistown was named after the British miner and prospector Daniel Francis. He acquired prospecting licenses in 1869 and eventually became the director of Tati Concessions Company. Although gold was mined in the region by locals for many generations before, the first settlement of miners settled in Francistown in 1897 near the recently revived Monarch Mine. The town had one main street running along the railways. Francistown grew quickly and before long, it was a lively place with bustling saloons and various shops and services.
Francistown is one of the transport hubs of Botswana, mostly due to the railway line leading north to Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. The town is at the center of transportation in Botswana and its main road allows access to Maun, the Okavango Delta, Kasane, Chobe National Park, Livingstone in Zambia and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
Since the revival of the gold mining industry, Francistown has experienced an economic boom. New infrastructural developments have breathed new life into the property market. The population has consistently expanded and is currently at around 115000 people. Modernization is evident in the shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and housing developments that have emerged in recent years.
Young people in Francistown have a variety of choices for entertainment. Along with the malls, retail shops, restaurants and various other developments, Francistown has cinemas with 3D capabilities, a few public parks, good local music and a vibrant night-life scene. The people of Francistown are friendly and inviting, adding to the warm and caring atmosphere in the city.
Francistown is an ever-developing city. The biggest project at the moment is Francistown’s long-term strategy named Vision 2022. This project is aiming to turn Francistown into an investment Center of Vibrance before 2022 by encouraging businesses to take advantage of the numerous opportunities and ample resources. Other current developments include Francistown New Hospital Project and the Francistown Destination Retail Centre.
Francistown is an ever-growing, ever-changing city with much to offer. Francistown has managed to find the balance between history and modernisation, preserving the precious history of the town without sacrificing modern attractions, their lively culture or their traditional ways.