The European Union (EU) this week put smiles on the faces of people of Selebi Phikwe, the oldest copper-nickel mining town, when it announced funding to make it possible for a study to be undertaken on the future of the region.
The Head of Delegation in Botswana and the SADC Mission in Gaborone stated that an amount of P450, 000 had been provided by the EU for the preparation of a detailed socio economic ‘picture’ of Selebi Phikwe and its surrounding areas.
“The Socio-Economic Audit is part of EU’s comprehensive programme of P300 million to support BCL operations as well as economic diversification of Selibe Phikwe, a town largely dependent on copper/nickel mining, and its surrounding areas,” the head of delegation said.
The study, which commenced in December 2008, is expected to be completed by April this year and it will involve community stakeholder consultations as well as data collection.
The Socio Economic Audit has been commissioned to produce a basis of ‘hard information’, data and analysis which will help Selebi Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) and other authorities to identify priority areas for utilisation of the available resources.
SPEDU was set up in 2008 following the approval in 2007 of the recommendations of a study on economic diversification in Selebi Phikwe conducted by CSA and funded by the EU.
Already, the EU has provided an advisor to SPEDU and experts on short-term basis conducting feasibility studies in the tourism, education and agriculture sectors.
An amount of P4.5 million was allocated to the implementation in 2009 of small projects in Selebi Phikwe, in the area of marketing, tourism, business support and beautification/infrastructure of the town.
“In addition, the study will also highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the Selebi Phikwe region compared with other ‘competitor’ regions; (other towns and regions) which are also seeking to attract tourists and investors or who trade with the same customers as does Selibe Phikwe,” added the EU.
The study will, at the end of the day provide, data and information from which the Selebi Phikwe community, public sector and private sector can make detailed arguments for a better share of the public sector ‘cake’.
The study will also highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the Selebi Phikwe region compared with other ‘competitor’ regions; which are also seeking to attract tourists and investors or who trade with the same customers as does Selibe Phikwe.
The study follows concerns of what will happen to the less than 100, 000 people of the mining town when the curtain falls on BCL, which is a bread basket of Selebi Phikwe.
There are conflicting timeframes of the lifespan of BCL mine with some estimating 2014 while others, like mine General Manager Montwedi Mphati, are not sure because of new discoveries made.