Organisers of the annual Botswana Resource Sector Conference (BRSC) are confident of hosting a yet another successful event. Executive Director of Afinitas Leutlwetse Tumelo fields questions on the resource sector’s highly anticipated showpiece.
With days just before this year’s Resource Conference, share with us how preparations have been?
TUMELO: Preparations for BRSC 2019 are at an advanced stage and we are looking forward to another successful conference. This year the conference has lined up over 35 speakers who will cover various key topics such as investment, environmental regulation and citizen empowerment. The conference will also have company focused presentations on various resource sector companies operating in Botswana. The keynote address on the first day will be given by Hon. E. Molale, the Minister of Minerals Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security. On the second day of the conference, Hon D. Makgato – Minister of Transport and Communications – will give the keynote address. Other key presentations will be from Botswana Railways, Debswana, Botswana Power Corporation, Khoemacau, Tshukudu Metals, African Alliance, Mount Burgess, Shumba Energy and LCM Capital.
How many delegates have registered – do you anticipate to pull more audience than previous years?
TUMELO: Registration for the conference is still ongoing and we are expecting a strong attendance of top executives of Botswana focused companies and government of representatives.
Who are the top speakers that you consider a must-listen to for resources sector enthusiasts that will be at the conference?
TUMELO: Delegates will have a diverse choice of speakers on key topics. A panel discussion on raising funding will be led by some of Botswana’s leading investment managers. There will also be panel discussions on citizen empowerment. This panel will look at how to the resources sector can support the development of local industries in order to boost sustainable employment creation. There will also be company focused presentations covering various exploration and mining companies. As part of their 50th celebration, Debswana will also be presenting at the conference.
What do you consider to be the most serious challenge facing the resource sector currently?
TUMELO: Botswana’s resources sector faces challenges locally and internationally. On the international front the sector is continuously exposed to fluctuating commodity prices and changes in investment trends by global asset managers. Botswana’s resources sector needs to be dynamic and competitive in order to continue to attract international investment and best skills.
Resource/Mining has been the mainstay of the country’s economy over the years; a role that is increasingly expected to diminish as diversification is aggressively pursued and other resource deposits diminish. Kindly discuss how you see the sector evolving with the times.
TUMELO: Mining and exploration still have a key role to play in driving the economy of Botswana. The country’s coal fields and the Kgalagadi copper belt are potentially the source of Botswana’s new mines.
Coal mining diehards insist that this resource is Botswana’s next top income earner despite the growing conservationist protests against its mining. What is your take on coal mining and its value in the midst growing calls against it?
TUMELO: Botswana has significant coal resources and there is a window to monetise this resource.
Some communities are demanding increased direct benefits from resources mined in their areas/regions. Is there room for increased beneficial approach while the current regime is retained – with the Government holding the mining rights?
TUMELO: The topic of community empowerment will be covered on a panel discussion titled, “Botswana’s resources sector; a catalyst for broad based citizen empowerment”. This panel discussion will discuss how Botswana’s resources sector can drive empowerment in the local economy.