BY CALISTUS BOSALETSWE
Botswana has been referred as a conduit for Japan appetite for minerals and oil in the region after Fukushima nuclear disaster seven years which exacerbated Japans energy insecurity,and forced the country to aggressively explore and extract resources worldwide.
Botswana which has a cordial diplomatic relations with Japan agreed to house Japan Oil,Gas and Metals National Corporation(JOGMEC) idea to set-up a Geological Remote Sensing Centre in Lobatse which is used as Japans’s exploration base for minerals in the region.
In his research paper published on , Botswana Journal of Business titled ,“ Japan’s Resource and Energy Diplomacy in Southern Africa: Botswana as a Conduit,”Univesity of Botswana,Senior Lecture ,Dr Boga Manatsha emphasised that Japan uses Botswana as a conduit to build business empire for its private firms and state-owned companies in the natural resources in the region.
Manatsha emphasised that Japan which relies on resource diplomacy to address its energy and resources insecurity use a Geological Remote Sensing Centre in Lobatse as Japan’s exploration base for minerals and oil in the region.
Manatsha indicated that Japan had to identify a strategic location in its quest to explore much needed resources.
According to Manatsha the Japans’s sole centre in Africa which was established during the global economic crisis has seen Japan exploring for more minerals in Africa.
According to him JOGMEC’s activities in Africa intensified after its centre was established in Lobatse. JOGMEC’s centre in Botswana is a product of an agreement between the governments of Botswana and Japan .
He explained that its main goal “is to carry out geological analysis in entire Southern African countries, cooperating with the government technical staff of SADC countries.
Manatsha paper further noted that JOGMEC’s success has guarantees Japan preferential access to extract minerals in the region .
Manatsha indicated that almost 600 geologist from SADC region have benefited from JOGMEC in SADC countries.
He indicated that Japan has a huge appetite on mineral such as Platinum Group Metals (PGMS) which are critical to the country’s economy, which is mainly driven by the automobile and electronic industries.
Manatsha explained that Japan quest for platinum group metals (PMGs) has seen exploration of JOGMEC and PMG in neighbouring South Africa .
He indicated that prior to the subsequent visit by Japanese high officials and Geological remote Sensing there was no Japanese firm that held interests in platinum exploration and production in the region. “In this joint venture, JOGMEC provides financial and technical support, and would transfer its interests to a qualifying Japanese firm if the exploration yielded positive results. This would secure a stable supply of platinum to Japan ,” he added.
He also noted that the state owned JOGMEC has already spread its wings in Africa. According to the paper JOGMEC further provided equity financing to INPEX Corporation a Japanese firm to explore oil in the DRC. He explained that an affiliation company was formed know as INPEX West Congo Petrolium,LTD as result of Japanese presence in the country.
He indicated that JOGMEC went further and committed itself to cover 75% of the exploration expenditure incurred by INPEX West Congo Petroleum, Ltd.
Manatsha also noted that JOGMEC fully supported this project because it is expected to enhance Japan’s exploration and production activities in Central African region, as well as reinforce Japan’s energy security when successful.
Manatsha further indicated that the presence of JOGMEC has also seen Japanese spreading its investment in other countries such as Malawi.
The paper also indicated that Malawi government has also hailed JOGMEC’s centre in Botswana which was going to play an important role in transferring skills to the Malawian geologists.
Manatsha also noted that in a quest to access the region’s mineral wealth JOGMEC’s centre in Botswana and Japan organised a resource-centred seminar in Lusaka in Zambia titled “Sustainable Development of Zambia’s Mining Sector”.
He indicated in the paper that the Japanese ambassador to Zambia, Akio Egawa reaffirmed at TICAD V summit about the country intention to provide capacity building for 1,000 Africans in the natural resource industry, including the expansion of training conducted by JOGMEC Geological Remote Sensing Centre in Botswana. JOGMEC’s has also seen Japan increasing its exploration interest in other countries such as Zimbabwe and Madagascar.