The much talked about localization is eventually gaining ground at the mine sites, it has emerged. Expatriates employment in the sector have been considerably reduced to the satisfaction of the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Ponatshego Kedikilwe.
“In 1998, expatriates accounted for about 9, 2 percent of the labour in Botswana’s mines. Ten years later, in 2007, due to the ongoing localization efforts, expatriates accounted for about 5, 2 percent of the industry’s labour force. This represents considerable progress, especially as the localization achievements are in managerial areas that a few years ago were exclusively held by expatriates,” Kedikilwe informed parliament on Friday.
Kedikilwe observed that a decade ago all the six major mines in the country were managed by expatriates.
“Today four of these mines are managed by citizens, a testimony to progress in localization.”
The number of expatriates in managerial positions is 35, 6 percentage at BCL, 32, 7 percent at Debswana, 15 percent at Tati Nickel and 8 percent at Botash.
He observed that the ratio of expatriates labour cost to citizen labour cost is about 30 percent.
“Expatriates are mostly in the higher end of the salary scales; that is because there are very few expatriates at C2 than there are at higher grades. The effect of this is that the ratio of expatriates’ labour costs as a percentage of total costs is higher than the ratio of expatriates in managerial positions.”
The Mmadinare MP lamented that, although it is naturally easier and preferable to employ citizens, currently “both processes of attracting expatriates and that of training, attracting and retaining citizens are extremely difficult and costly. There are many employment opportunities for skilled manpower in the mines in the country and the region.”
As a result, he said, there is a frequent movement of employees, both citizens and expatriates, from one mine to another, including, in some cases, people trained in one career opting to pursue a different one.
Despite the setback, Kedikilwe is positive about the localization process in the mines.
“There is always room for improvement,” he said. “Having toured virtually all the mines in this country focusing on localization, citizen empowerment and labour relations, I also appreciate the dynamic nature of the industry at this point, as well as labour mobility and volatility, locally, regionally and globally. I am satisfied that progress is good.”
The minister was answering a question from Selebi-Phikwe West MP, Kavis Kario.