Under the theme; the evolving face of mining in Africa: accelerating sustainable transformation
to a highly diverse workforce, Debswana sponsored the Woman in Mining Conference this year.
The 4 th annual conference was held in Phakalane Golf Estate, on the 3 rd and 4 th of November
When delivering his speech, the CEO of Minerals Development Company Botswana (PTY)
LTD, Matome Tsholetsa Malema, mentioned that this year’s theme is not only timely and
appropriate but extremely consequential given the challenges that mining faces not only in
Africa but across the world.
“The global economic outlook is looking very gloomy and the prospects for recovery in the short
term or at least in the H1 of FY 2023 are at best gloomy and at worst catastrophic with a
recession in the horizon,” Malema said.
He continued to say that the African mining industry is still facing many challenges. “This
includes amongst other things, the very low base of the mining activity, the heavy dependence on
revenues and earnings from mining and environmental degradation just to mention a few.”
“The significant debt burden that a lot of African countries find themselves in is not helping. In
fact, it is estimated that on average the debt burden of African countries is c.75% of GDP (in
Botswana the threshold is 25% of GDP). That’s crippling debt if you don’t have large and more
diversified revenue streams to support the fiscus. It is even more so when your traditional
development partners with more accommodating credit terms are being substituted by private
capital which doesn’t come cheap and has very tight covenants. It is very difficult to develop a
thriving mining industry under these circumstances.” He said.
Although Africa is the most endowed region with mineral wealth, the continent remains
significantly unexplored and under- explored. Furthermore, most of the minerals produced in
Africa are still exported without downstream processing, thereby reducing their potential value
adds to African economies.
Malema however alluded that Africa must speak with one voice to deal with the changing face of
mining. “Africa must up its game in R&D and technology and achieve increased efficiencies,
harnessing the green transition through digital transformation.” He said.
“In closing I humbly submit that given this changing face of mining and the challenges presented
by these changes, there are low hanging fruits that Africa and in particular our country can
leverage on. In the case of Botswana, HE’s reset agenda and in particular leveraging on the
digitization, local beneficiation, value chain development and mindset change. I would like to
submit that the world must untangle this issue from ESG, so it stands on its own and receives the
focus and attention that it deserves. Secondly, I would like to submit that any agenda that
excludes diversity and in particular women and girls (covert, overt or otherwise) must be
considered an externality in the same way that environmental pollution is considered an
Let’s develop women earlier in the process and assign them to be mentored by people, both male
and female, who have been vetted and are in their own right achievers. What’s the point of a
woman being mentored by a man or woman for that matter who has not distinguished
himself/herself in any visible way? Women must also support each other – PHD – there are
women who prefer to be supervised by a man rather another woman. In the same way that some
of us will prefer to be supervised by a non-citizen than a citizen. Women must be encouraged to
support each other and Batswana by Batswana.
The conference attracted almost 20 companies including big mining houses and mining
contractors, with a total of 140 people attending.