Friday, September 25, 2020

50 years later, Debswana is consulting on alternative economic activities for mining communities

BY CEDRIC SWANKA

Parliament has learnt that efforts to ensure Batswana benefit from localised tourism activities as well as partnerships between Debswana and youth business are at consultative phase.

The Minister of Resources, Green technology and Energy Security Eric Molale this past week, said “Debswana has a social performance framework through which it seeks among other things, to localise and develop tourism activities within neighbouring communities.”

Debswana was founded by the Botswana government and De Beers Mining Company is 1969.

This week Molale said that to advance the objective the Debswana has began by doing research, including desktop research, which will assist in profiling of economic initiatives within neighbouring communities.

The mine alongside partnerships with those living near the mine has already developed the Tsonyane Cultural Heritage Site. This is a partnership between Tsonyane community, Department of National Museum and Monuments and the Community Based Natural Resource Management Committee.

Furthermore the Minister said “The mine facilitates the communities to register trusts that will manage the developed tourism facilities, as well as assist with capacity building to help the communities manage their assets and generate sustainable income.”

Minister Molale continued to share the planned tasks Debswana undertaking this year “Debswana has committed to develop an economic development project in Mabutsane that entails construction of market stalls, kraals, a loading ramp and a horse track. This is all done with the view to stimulate economic activity within surrounding villages.”

“With regards to communities near Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines (OLDM), Debswana has a program called Orapa Today, Boteti Tomorrow (OTBT),” the Minister said.

“The concept of ‘Orapa today, Boteti tomorrow’ is about tourism. It seeks to position Boteti as the gateway to the greater Makgadikgadi. By leveraging on using the first great diamond mine in Botswana, mine museum to attract visitors to the area. A feasibility study on community benefit programme is underway,” he said.

The Minister was answering a question from Member of Parliament (MP) for Jwaneng Mabutsane Shawn Nthaile. MP Nthaile also asked for clarity on how much Debswana Jwaneng mine plans to divert from its game farm assets and incubate upcoming youth entrepreneurs in the area.

Minister Molale said “currently the mine is undertaking stakeholder consultations among neighbouring communities to identify sustainable partnership models that can leverage on the game park asset and form an economic diversification stream through tourism.”

As for how upcoming youth entreprenuers will be incubated, Minister Molale said “the model for rolling out beneficiation from the game assets involving youth will be informed by the outcome of the community consultation exercise and evaluation of the models proposed.”

In closing Minister Molale said “The proposed co-management of the game park asset is in alignment with long term vision of leaving a lasting legacy and resilient post mining communities.”

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