Botswana still has a lot of catching up ton when it comes to global competitiveness, this is despite moving one notch up in the latest Global Competitiveness Report – 2017-2018.
According to the 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Index’ released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Botswana ranks number 63 out of 137 countries with a score of 4.30. This is a slight improvement from the previous ranking of 64th, further reflecting the upward trend since 2012 when Botswana was ranked 80th in the world.
The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) tracks the performance of close to 140 countries on 12 pillars of competitiveness. It assesses the factors and institutions identified by empirical and theoretical research as determining improvements in productivity, which in turn is the main determinant of long-term growth and an essential factor in economic growth and prosperity.
The WEF defines it as “the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country”. Others are subtly different but all generally use the word “productivity”. Mauritius remains Africa’s most competitive economy, followed by Rwanda ranked 58th globally with a score of 4.35, South Africa is ranked 61st globally with a score of 4.32. Botswana has done better than the likes of Morocco which is ranked 71st globally with a score of 4.24. On the global scale, Switzerland, United States, Singapore, Netherlands and Germany completed the top 5 economies with scores of 5.86, 5.85, 5.71, 5.66 and 5.65 respectively.
Botswana as a middle income state intends to improve its economic environment to improve Foreign Direct Investment, the ease of doing business, innovative culture in a quest to industrialize the economy, diversify national revenue and create much needed employment, among other things. Stakeholders observe that government still has a major role to play in making sure that Botswana is an attractive place for investment, economic growth and business development. According to Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Bogolo Kenewendo, government has a significant and direct role in ensuring that jobs are created.
Kwenewendo, who is a renowned economist, a trade & investment specialist has observed in previous interviews that government lacked a clear strategic path facilitation of jobs creation. “We cannot continue saying the government is not responsible for creating jobs, while we know the government does not have a clear framework on how we are going to create a conducive environment for somebody else to do so,” she said.
“We need to devise and craft clear strategies with timeframes on how we want to combat this issue of unemployment which affects most of our youth and continues to be on the rise. People want to hear job creation; we need to have clearer business reforms that can position Botswana among the top investments and business environments in the continents and the world,” she said. Kwenewendo, a former Ghanaian government trade & investment advisor says the Botswana government has a huge task of evaluating its immigration laws, trade regulations and its investment wooing approach.
The former Ecosult Economist appealed to the government to fast track moving into the techno-based economic strategies adding that globally there is a transition to move from physical human resource to information technology, digital and machinery personnel. “If we don’t tap into global changes we will be left behind and that will make it difficult for us to do business or trade with other countries, or even export labor,” she said. Renowned Economic and Finance Specialist at First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) Moathudi Sebabole observes that Botswana‘s Foreign Direct Investment is still untapped.
Sebabole compared Botswana to countries such as Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo whom according to him are doing well when it comes to attracting foreign investors to set up business and create employment for natives. “If you look at our FDI figures, they are very low compared to countries I have mentioned, that raises a concern that there might be something we not doing right,” he said.
He further explained that compared to those countries Botswana has better political stability with no civil unrest. “It suggests that there was somewhere we failing as far as attracting investors to Botswana is concerned.” Emphasizing on Sebabole‘s views another youthful business person, Health Education guru, Dr Tiro Mampane of Boitekanelo Group of Companies which includes Boitekanelo College told this publication that Botswana needed to look deeper and introspect its trade and business laws. He indicated that the ease of doing business locally needed to be improved by eliminating cumbersome procedures which might end up discouraging investors.
According to Dr Mampane, Small Medium Enterprises need to be empowered to create wealth and economic survival for the rural and low income people. “If you look into other businesses you will realize that they don’t necessarily require, for example, a physical office to operate, thus they should be exempted from some trade licenses requirement,” he said. The Global Competitiveness Report 2017–2018 comes out at a time when the global economy has started to show signs of recovery and yet policymakers and business leaders are concerned about the prospects for future economic growth.
Governments, businesses, and individuals are experiencing high levels of uncertainty as technology and geopolitical forces reshape the economic and political order that has underpinned international relations and economic policy for the past 25 years. At the same time, the perception that current economic approaches do not serve people and societies well enough is gaining ground, prompting calls for new models of human-centric economic progress.
The Report states that in many advanced economies the value of economic growth for society has come into question as a result of increasing inequality, the challenges of technological change, and the complex impacts of globalization—including those related to trade in goods, services, and data, and to the movement of people and capital. In emerging economies, record decreases in poverty and a growing middle class have fueled higher aspirations and demands for better public goods; these demands are now clashing with slower growth and tightening government budgets.
The future of Botswana’s largest copper and silver operation, Khoemacau Copper Mining, looks promising as the new owners, MMG Group, commit to the mine’s expansion plans. MMG, an Australian headquartered company owned by China, has expressed its dedication to doubling Khoemacau’s production and transforming it into one of the most significant high-grade copper operations in Africa.
Nan Wang, the Executive General Manager for Australia and Africa at MMG, stated that while the immediate focus is on maintaining a consistent production level of 60ktpa, there are solid plans to increase Khoemacau’s production capacity. The company aims to double its production from 3.65Mtpa to 8.15Mtpa, resulting in an increase in payable copper from approximately 60ktpa to around 130ktpa.
To achieve this expansion, Khoemacau has completed a pre-feasibility study on the project and a solar power initiative. The next step is to conduct a feasibility study, which will pave the way for increased production capacity. Additionally, Khoemacau has identified extensive exploration opportunities across its license area, positioning the company for an exciting new phase of development.
The current Khoemacau operation reached full production and nameplate capacity in December 2022, following over a decade of investment totaling over P10 billion. This significant investment allowed for an intense exploration program, resulting in the development of the most automated underground mining operation in Botswana. The first concentrate was produced in June 2021, and the product entered the export market in July of the same year. Throughout 2022, the company has been working on the pre-feasibility study for the expansion project, with the feasibility study scheduled for the following year.
The expansion plans will involve the construction of a new world-class process plant in Zone 5, where the current mining of ore takes place. This new plant will be larger than the existing one in Boseto, which currently receives ore from Zone 5. The expansion will also involve the development of new underground mines, including Mango, Zone 5 North, and Zeta North East. These additional mines will bring the total number of underground shafts at Khoemacau to six. The ramp-up of production from the expansion is expected to occur in 2026.
Khoemacau, which acquired assets in the Kalahari Copper Belt after the liquidation of Discovery Metals in 2015, currently employs over 1500 people, with the majority being Batswana. The Khoemacau Mine is located in north-west Botswana, in the emerging Kalahari Copperbelt. It boasts the 10th largest African Copper Mineral Resource by total contained copper metal and is one of the largest copper sedimentary systems in the world outside of the Central African Copperbelt.
The mine utilizes underground long hole stoping as its mining method and conventional sulphide flotation for processing. Resource drilling results have shown the existing resources to have continuity at depth, and there are several exploration targets within the tenement package that have the potential to extend the mine’s life or increase productivity.
The Zone 5 mine has already ramped up production, and further expansion in the next five years will be supported by the deposits in the Zone 5 Group. The estimated mine life is a minimum of 20 years, with the potential to extend beyond 30 years by tapping into other deposits within the tenement package.
In conclusion, the commitment of MMG Group to Khoemacau’s expansion plans signifies a bright future for Botswana’s largest copper and silver operation. With the completion of pre-feasibility and feasibility studies, as well as significant investments, Khoemacau is poised to become one of Africa’s most important high-grade copper operations. The expansion project will not only increase production capacity but also create new job opportunities and contribute to the economic growth of Botswana.
Khoemacau Copper Mining, a leading copper mining company, has recently announced its acquisition by MMG Limited, a global resources company based in Australia. This acquisition marks a significant milestone for both companies and demonstrates their commitment to continued investment, growth, and sustainability in the mining industry.
MMG Limited is a renowned mining company that operates copper and other base metals projects across four continents. With its headquarters in Melbourne, Australia, MMG has a strong track record in mining and exploration. The company currently operates several successful mines, including the Dugald River zinc mine and the Rosebery polymetallic mine in Australia, the Kinsevere copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Las Bambas Mine in Peru. MMG’s extensive experience and expertise in mining operations make it an ideal partner for Khoemacau.
MMG’s commitment to sustainability aligns perfectly with Khoemacau’s values and priorities. Khoemacau has always placed a strong emphasis on safety, health, community, and the environment. MMG shares this commitment and applies the principles of good corporate governance as set out in the Corporate Governance Code of the Hong Kong Listing Rules. As a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), MMG adheres to sustainable mining principles, ensuring responsible and ethical practices in all its operations.
Over the past 12 years, Khoemacau’s current shareholders have made significant investments in the development of the company. With approximately US$1 billion deployed in the project, Khoemacau has successfully transformed from an exploration and discovery phase to a fully-fledged operating copper mine. The completion of the ramp-up of the Zone 5/Boseto operations has set the stage for the next phase of expansion.
With the acquisition by MMG, Khoemacau is poised for an exciting new chapter in its development. The completion of a pre-feasibility study on the Khoemacau expansion and a solar power project has paved the way for increased production capacity. The feasibility study will be the next step in doubling the production capacity from 3.65 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 8.15 Mtpa, resulting in a significant increase in payable copper from approximately 60,000 tonnes per annum (ktpa) to 130,000 ktpa. Additionally, Khoemacau has extensive exploration opportunities across its license area, further enhancing its growth potential.
The CEO of Khoemacau, Johan Ferreira, expressed his gratitude to the current owners for their stewardship of the company and their successful transformation of Khoemacau into a fully operational copper mine. He also highlighted the company’s focus on the expansion study and its vision for the future with MMG. Ferreira emphasized that the partnership with MMG will ensure Khoemacau’s long-term success, delivering employment, community benefits, and economic development in Botswana.
MMG Chairman, Jiqing Xu, echoed Ferreira’s sentiments, stating that the acquisition of Khoemacau aligns with MMG’s growth strategy and vision. Xu emphasized MMG’s commitment to creating opportunities for all stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, and communities. He expressed confidence in Khoemacau’s expansion potential and the company’s ability to realize its full potential with the support of MMG.
The sale of Khoemacau to MMG is subject to certain conditions precedent and approvals, with the expected closing date in the first half of 2024. This acquisition represents a significant step forward for both companies and reinforces their commitment to sustainable mining practices, responsible resource development, and long-term growth in the mining industry.
In conclusion, the acquisition of Khoemacau Copper Mining by MMG Limited signifies a new era of investment, growth, and sustainability in the mining industry. With MMG’s extensive experience and commitment to responsible mining practices, Khoemacau is well-positioned for future success. The partnership between the two companies will not only drive economic development but also ensure the safety and well-being of employees, benefit local communities, and contribute to the overall growth of Botswana’s mining sector.
The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.
The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.
Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.
The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.
Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.
Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.
In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.