Botswana has been told it needs ingredients to drive the depth and breadth of its primary growth path including building off her natural resources, having strong institutions and sound policy frameworks and be society inclusive in the growth plan
The diamond rich country has used all the tricks in the book to diversify the economy and although there is growth in the non-mining sector, minerals extraction still plays a major role in the economy.
Anglo American Chief Executive Officer, Mark Cutifani warned Botswana at the National Business Conference (NBC) in Maun that mineral resources like any other natural resource, ‘you can either use them well, or squander your endowment through short-sighted and inadequate policy frameworks and approaches’.
He said diversification beyond extractives in general and diamonds in particular is crucial as proven resources will eventually deplete.
“There is therefore no room for complacency in thinking that “we will always have diamonds”.
Alternative economically viable industries need to be created and nurtured in anticipation of that day eventually arriving,” said the man who also doubles as De Beers Chairman.
Cutifani pledged that Anglo American is ready to partner with Botswana government in evaluating the economic viability of natural resource projects, across a range of commodities.
“At the same time we also understand resource development is a partnership that must benefit society in its broader context if we are to avoid a resource blessing becoming a resource curse.”
He advised Botswana to continue strengthening its public institutions to develop standards and norms compatible with the most successful democracies in the world as modern public governance best practice indicates that progressive, consistent, transparent and business-friendly policy environments are needed for business and economies to flourish.
“Make it easier for businesses to operate in Botswana. Reduce red tape. Support entrepreneurs and small enterprises, as amongst them are the future success stories that will drive Botswana’s economy forward,” he said as he warned that Botswana is competing for capital against the likes of Singapore, Brazil, Tanzania, Italy and South Africa.
Cutifani told the conference that while attracting diamond grading expertise and research activities into Botswana will generate some economic activity in the short term, the real long term value will lie in retaining the intellectual property generated by attracting the world’s young high potential talent and a highly skilled workforce to this country.
“Examples provided by countries where practical and transferable skills are rewarded and respected in society at least as much as a traditional modern academic education are worth studying and emulating.”
President Ian Khama said at the conference that the De Beers Global Sightholder Sales commonly known as GSS from the UK to Botswana and diamond aggregation as well as the development of the diamond cutting and polishing industry bear testimony of the country’s quest to diversify industrial base.
“I do recognise that the global competiveness of our diamond industry value-chain can still benefit greatly from an improvement in productivity,” said Khama.
“In this regard, I wish to congratulate the Botswana Chamber of Mines for their initiative, “Business Development Project”, which will support and nurture participation of local manufacturers and service providers through consolidated purchasing of inputs for the mining sector”.