For the first time in over 20 years, Botswana has reviewed its mineral policy in the hope of maximising the national benefits from the billion-Pula industry.
The review is also aimed at creating a competitive environment for investors.
Speaking to Voice Money, Ministry of Minerals & Energy Chief Public Relations Officer (PRO), Boikhutso Rabasha explained the review was influenced by the crucial impact the industry has on the country’s economy.
“With the new policy, Botswana aims to provide for security of tenure, which should be done through clear, efficient and transparent processes in the administration and interpretation of the regulatory framework,” stated Rabasha, adding government will be required to regularly review and streamline administrative process to reduce undue delays and cumbersome processes.
In addition, the minerals policy will create an environment conducive for effective participation of citizens and locally based companies. To achieve this, emphasis will be made on capacity building and empowering local businesses.
“Economic growth is critical to wealth creation and associated job creation, which is critical for the enhancement of the economic and social wellbeing of our country. This policy was developed through a long process involving, among other things, a broad-based consultative process conducted through nation-wide tours, and technical support from the Commonwealth Secretariat, as policies are by nature long term intentions,” she said.
According to Rabasha, the policy outlines the government as a regulator, promoter, service provider and investor in its intention of developing the mineral sector.
She further noted govt has already achieved some success in this area, setting-up separate investment arms such as Okavango Diamond Company and Mineral Development Company Botswana to ensure role clarity for all the players.
“This policy takes into account the current and emerging issues in the sector. The current issues are: gender balance in the mining sector, health & safety, capacity building, stakeholders’ roles and protection of the environment. Emerging issues include the advent of synthetics, beneficiation and value addition, citizen economic empowerment and local supply of goods and services,” continued Rabasha.
Speaking on the issue of synthetics, she added, “Over the last few years, synthetic diamonds have come into the market, presenting a business opportunity for investors, while at the same time posing a market risk to natural diamonds, which Botswana relies on.
The policy position calls for Government to allow only businesses in synthetic minerals which do not compromise the overarching aim of promoting the maximization of economic benefits to the nation while enabling private investors to earn competitive returns.”