Last week His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi had the honour of giving a keynote address at the 2021 Virtual Mining Indaba held under the sub-theme; ‘Reigniting Southern Africa’s economies with new opportunities’. President Masisi provided an overview on Botswana’s activities in the production of minerals and in the development of the requisite infrastructure, as well as new opportunities that are available for international investors. He also used the opportunity to inform potential investors on the legal, regulatory and policy frameworks that Botswana has put in place to safeguard the interest of investors.
President Masisi said the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, (AfCFTA) will go a long way in accelerating intra-African trade and boost the continent’s mineral rich countries’ trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.
He further said the conference underscores the regional objectives we had set for ourselves to guide sustainable development as outlined in the Southern African Development Community Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan which ran from 2015 to 2020. “With a combined population of over two hundred and fifty million people, the SADC region offers important market opportunities for its member states and particularly through its vast natural resources. This also offers a unique opportunity to attract investment in the extractive industries,” he added.
Masisi told the participants that the hosting of this year’s Conference is significant as it is being held in the midst of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic which has devastated the world economy. “As you may be aware, the diamond industry is one of the key economic sectors that has been severely affected by the pandemic with serious consequences for the development of diamond producing countries such as ours.
Over the past year, we have observed logistical challenges for exporting minerals as a result of travel restrictions and consequent closure of ports and borders. In some instances, the markets of some minerals such as diamonds shut down almost completely, resulting in great losses for those in the mining industry and others in the value chain. This has also diminished revenue in diamond dependent nations such as Botswana,” he said.
The pandemic continues to pose challenges for the diamond industry. There has been a drastic drop in raising funding for mineral prospecting and development of projects the world over. This has also brought uncertainty to the industry with countries and businesses struggling with production and revenue forecasts, as well as job losses. President Masisi emphasized that the 2021 Mining Indaba Conference provides an opportunity to introspect and propose robust and innovative strategies and solutions that will revive this important sector, to help overcome the economic challenges that our countries have endured since the outbreak of the pandemic.
“Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, tough times like these call for greater collaboration amongst industry players, particularly Governments and the private sector to ensure the rebuilding of the mining sector. This therefore calls for creativity and radical solutions to enhance the performance of the minerals sector,” he concluded.
- Tautona Times