Botswana schools Zambia on mining governance

ZAMBIA can learn valuable lessons from Botswana on how it has utilized its vast mineral resources through good governance, low levels of corruption and value addition as well as the need to diversify the economy beyond the mining sector, says Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) executive officer Charles Siwawa. Mr Siwawa said that Botswana had made great strides in diversifying not just the mining but the broader economy as well using value addition on minerals such as coal to generate electricity. He said that revenue from the mines had been the pillar of that country’s economic growth especially diamonds but that this would not have been possible without good governance, low levels of corruption and cordial relationship with the mines. “Good governance in Botswana is reflected in relatively low levels of corruption, a good relationship with the mining industry, an awareness of the need to grow and diversify the economy, and knowing how to invest State revenue for the good of the country. ‘‘It’s fair to say that mining revenue has been the pillar to the country’s  economic growth – particularly from diamonds – but this growth would not have been possible without good governance,” Mr Siwawa said. He said this on the sidelines of the governance conference held in South Africa recently. In an interview with Mining for Zambia, he said that long-term policy planning and a stable regulatory framework, if consistently applied, were a key feature of good governance. Mr Siwawa said that Botswana had always enjoyed a good relationship with De Beers and the mining industry in general, and that it has been an important reason for the progress made to date. He said that statistics by the Bank of Botswana had indicated that tourism was now growing slightly faster than mining, and its steady contribution to gross domestic product had helped to mitigate the effects of the slowdown in the mining sector in the current low-price commodity environment. Mr Siwawa observed that Botswana was not immune to some of the challenges facing other mining countries with some high-cost mines – particularly copper – had struggled to remain competitive against the backdrop of weak commodity prices and were on care-and-maintenance until prices stabilized.