Trade between Botswana and Canada remains strong in the mining sector, Canadian Governor General David Johnston said in his first ever visit to Botswana last week.
While trade relations between the two countries are currently at an infant stage, Johnston expressed his happiness at the two countries’ heavy investment in mining sectors. “I am impressed by the trade relations Botswana government has with the Canadians, because it has a significant financial interest in companies that operate two of our Canadian diamond mines constituting to foreign direct investment,” Johnston said during his two day State visit to Botswana. De Beers group, which Botswana has a minority shareholding in, operates two diamond mines in Canada – Snap Lake and Victor Diamond Mine.
The latter is the first Canadian Diamond Mine located in Ontario. The Oppenheimer family also owns the Snap Lake Diamond Mine, which is located in James Bay Lowlands 90 kilometers west of Attawapiskat. Johnston said that Canadian companies have also invested in Botswana’s mining sector, which he said was likely to grow given Botswana’s world best diamond production record. Canadian owned mines in Botswana include Lucara Diamond Corp, which is listed on Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE). The company owns 100 percent shares in Karowe Diamond Mine, a mine, which Johnston visited.
The recently acquired coal explorer, CIC Energy was also a Canadian company before transferring its ownership to India’s Jindal Africa. Canada enjoys growing commercial links with Botswana fueled by the increasing Canadian cumulative assets in Botswana’s mining sector. According to Natural Resources Canada, Canadian cumulative mining assets in Botswana were nearly $397 million in 2011 (an equivalent of P3.2 billion). Ways to unlock wealth and increase trade for the two economies topped the discussions in the talks that President Ian Khama had with the Governor. Statistics Canada reveals that two-way merchandise trade reached almost $4.4 million (an equivalent of around P35 million) in 2012.
Total Canadian merchandise exports were about $3.5 million (P35 million) in 2012. Top merchandise exports to Botswana include precious stones (coins), machinery, electrical machinery and pharmaceutical products. Total Canadian merchandise imports were just over $913,000 (P9 million). Top merchandise imports from Botswana comprise mainly diamonds, woven apparel suits, tracksuits, ski suits, swimwear as well electric machinery electric capacitors and arts. Through its Head Office in Ottawa, Export Development Canada (EDC) provides support to Canadian companies planning on or currently doing business in Botswana, which Johnston said would be more efficient now following his visit. “I will market Botswana to the world and make sure that it is not only looked at as Africa, but an independent country with good governance and investment returns,” he said.
EDC helps Canadian companies through risk reductions measures as well as financing them to set up operations in Botswana. EDUCATION Canada has been an active player in Botswana’s education sector for more than a decade. On average, 250 students go to study in Canada every year. In 2012 alone, there were 287 Batswana students in Canada. The Botswana government has indicated that building the country’s capacity through education and training continues to be a high priority. CAPACITY BUILDING/MILITARY TRAINING Johnston, who is also the Canadian Army Commander in Chief, had an opportunity to inspect Botswana Defence Force and had only good things to say. He said there has been a great deal of sharing expertise between Canada and Botswana. “That is another area in which I expect our cooperation to be kept alive through continuous trainings and knowledge exchange,” said the Governor, who was impressed by Botswana’s Defence College.