GABORONE, Botswana, Jun 29 – The Kenyan Government is borrowing lessons from Botswana as the country’s mining sector readies for takeoff.
As part of his itinerary when he came to Botswana on a three-day State visit, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his delegation engaged mining sector officials and technocrats and toured premier mining institutions in the country.
The aim of the engagement was to learn from the best practices that Botswana has used to reap benefits from mining, which is a field in which it has experience stretching back to the 1970s.
Botswana is currently the largest producer of diamonds and is home to the worlds biggest and most sophisticated rough diamond sorting and valuing company – DTC Botswana.
Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu, who accompanied President Kenyatta and was the head of the delegation from the mining sector, said the manner in which Botswana has harnessed its mineral wealth to contribute to the growth of its economy is enviable.
“Today our economy is driven by agriculture and services as well as infrastructure development but I think mining can lift this country from where it is contributing around one percent of the GDP to become a real integral part of the economic transformation,” said Kazungu.
He said the governments of Kenya and Botswana have already set up a joint permanent commission and a committee of experts will soon be formed to set out the terms of reference for the two countries to cooperate in mining.
The CS said one of the things Kenya can learn from Botswana’s mining experience is how to attract responsible and credible mining companies and negotiating for the benefit of the country.
“Sometimes as African countries we let multinationals push us so hard when it comes to negotiating for mineral contracts to a level where we cede a lot of ground. In Botswana we have seen a model where the interests of the investors and the country are balanced,” said Kazungu.
The CS said one of the biggest takeaways for him from the engagement with the Botswana team was the importance of the government’s role in the mining sector.
He said the role played by the Botswana Government in the mining industry is credited for making the sector beneficial and Kenya could learn vital lessons.
“The issue of being in control of the processes, being in control of your resources, knowing how to engage, how to negotiate to get the very best – basically being in control of everything from the mining fields to the processing, management and distribution is a vital lesson,” said the CS.
Kazungu said being in control means the country will know how to get the best out of the resources so that it can contribute to the economic transformation.