Botswana’s unemployment levels grew in 2021 on the back of continued negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fifth report of the Labour Force Module from the quarterly Multi Topic Survey (QMTS) by Statistics Botswana has reported.† The Employed Population (15 years and above) recorded a decline of 2.2 percent between quarters four (4) 2020 and four (4) of 2021, from 733,875 to 717,418 persons.
This was accompanied by an increase of 5.7 percent of unemployed persons, from 238,731 to 252,316 persons over the period. Formal sector employment went up from 477,716 in quarter four of 2020 to 494,457 in quarter four of 2021, an increase of 3.5 percent.† The youth labour force decreased by 4.4 percent between quarter four 2020 and four of 2021, from 509,195 to 486,706. Youth unemployment rate went up by 2.0 percentage point over the period, from 32.4 to 34.4 percent.
Unemployment rate (persons aged 15 years and above) went up by 1.5 percentage points, from 24.5 percent in fourth of 2020, to 26.0 percent in fourth quarter of 2021. The Youth not in Education, not in Employment or Training (NEET Rate %) went up from 37.5 to 39.4 percent between the two periods, an increase of 1.9 percentage points.
The population of the 15 years and about which participated actively in the economy,† was estimated at 969,734 (59.2.0 percent) of the target population, of which 717,418 (74.0 percent) was employed, and 252,316 (26.0 percent) was unemployed. Compared with the fourth quarter of 2020, the labour force indicates a decrease of 0.3 percent, from 972,606 in Q4 2020 to 969,734 in Q4 2021. The population outside labour force or economically inactive population aged 15 years and above stood at 668,088.These include homemakers, students, elderlies & the sick, and others.
Homemakers accounted for the highest percentage (35.6 percent) of population outside labour force with 238,019 persons, followed by students at 29.4 percent, with 196,174 persons. The total number of persons aged 18 years and above was estimated at 1,504,263, of which 965,680 were the labour force and 538,583 were outside the labour force.† The Labour Force or economically active consisted of 716,510 employed and 249,171†unemployed persons.
Of the total 717,418 employed persons, 49.6 percent (355,771 persons) were males and 50.4 percent were females (36,1647persons).† In terms of employment by district Gaborone had the highest number of employed persons followed by Kweneng East and South East districts respectively. Gaborone accounted for16.1 percent of the total employed, with Kweneng East recording 14.2 percent, followed by South East with 8.1 percent, of the overall employment.
Kweneng East recorded a decreased in employment from 16.6 percent in Q4 2020 to 14.2 percent in Q4 2021, whereas Gaborone recorded an increase in total employed persons from 14.5 percent in Q4 2020 to 16.1 percent in Q4 2021. According to the survey majority of the employed were in the elementary and service/sales occupational categories. This was the case in the previous quarters.† Elementary and service/sales workers occupations usually include among others jobs like cleaners, laborersí, domestic workers, shop sales assistants, cashiers, stall and market sales persons, security guards etc.
They usually do not require high levels of skills associated with higher levels of education and/or training education. They are mostly simple and routine tasks that can be performed using hand held tools. Out of a total of 717,418 employed persons, 26.6 percent (190,693 persons) reported being elementary occupations followed by those in Service/sales workers category with 171,289 persons (23.9 percent). Craft and Related Trades Workers constituted 11.5 percent of the total employed.
Total formal sector employment was recorded at 494,457, of which 232,394 were males (47.0 percent) and 262,063 (53.0 percent) were females.† Comparison of the 2021 fourth quarter of QMTS Formal Sector Employment with the fourth quarter of 2020 showed that there had been an increase in formal sector employment.† The employment increased from 477,915 persons to 494, 457 persons. This is an increase of 3.5 percent (16,741 persons). Comparing Q4 2019 with Q4 2021, the formal sector employment showed an†increase, of 1.8 percent, from 485,524 in 2019 to 494,457 in 2021.
In terms of cash earnings estimated average monthly cash earning for formal employees were at P7,238 for citizens, P7,057 for on-citizens, and P7,230 for all employees (citizens and non-citizens).† Average monthly cash earnings for males and females in formal employment were estimated at P7,429 and P7,032 respectively.† Overall unemployment rate for quarter four 2021 was estimated at 26.0 percent, This is an increase of 1.5 percentage points compared to the 24.5 percent unemployment rate estimated for the fourth quarter of
This estimate the percentage of labour force which was actively seeking work during the reference period. Female unemployment rate was estimated at 27.9 percent, compared with 24.0 percent for males. Unemployment rate has been increasing from year to year. In quarter four 2019, the rate was recorded at 22.2 percent. The following year (quarter four of 2020), 24.5 percent was recorded. In quarter four 2021, the rate continued to go up, reaching 26.0 percent.
The annual change between quarter four of 2019 and quarter four 2020 showed an increase by 2.3 percentage points in the overall unemployment rate. Between quarter four 2020 and quarter four 2021, an annual increase of 1.5 percentage points was recorded. Quarter four 2021 estimate for the extended unemployment rate was 31.1 percent as compared to 30.3 percent recorded in quarter four of 2020.† A study by Statistics Botswana has estimated that the total number of persons who lost jobs or businesses due to Covid-19 at 64, 347 persons.
The majority of persons affected by the pandemic were females. A total of 34,103 females (53.0 percent) was recorded to have lost jobs/ businesses whilst 30, 245 males (47.0 percent) was recorded for males. The results indicate that job/businesses loss was more prevalent amongst the youth in age group 25-29. This group recorded 18.1 percent of all persons who lost jobs due to Covid-19. Age groups 30-34 and 35-39 followed with 15.4 percent each. Job/ business loss was relatively low from age group 55-59 to 70-74, with age group 70-74 recording of 0.7 percent. Age groups 15-19 and 75+ recoded no job/ business loss.
Of this 64,347 lost jobs/ businesses due to Covid-19, of this only 8.2 percent (5,280) were able to find new jobs by fourth quarter 2021. The majority of person who were able to find new jobs/ businesses were males with 60.5 percent, while females recorded 30.4 percent. Comparison of job/business loss due to Covid-19 between quarter four 2020 and quarter four 2021 depicts a reduction of 4.1 percent (2,785) in the number of jobs/ businesses lost.
Service/Sales Workers Elementary occupations recorded the highest new jobs/ business with 29.7 percent. Craft & Related Trades Workers and Elementary Occupations recorded 24.5 and 16.8 percent respectively.† Professionals, Technicians & Associate professionals and other specialised professionals did not record any new job/business found by persons who lost jobs/ businesses due to Covid-19.
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.