Sunday, May 16, 2021

Poor infrastructure hinders local diamond beneficiation

As the main source of diamonds, the Boteti sub-district should, at a local level, be benefitting the most from this resource but that is not happening.

From a regional mapping study in towns and district councils of Botswana that was conducted in 2011, it emerged that the sub-district was not suited for diamond beneficiation.

“This is largely because infrastructure (such as a well-developed park with proper facilities such as fast internet access or ICT services, accommodation, diamond financing banks and insurance), which is one of the key enablers for diamond beneficiation is not well developed in the area,” the Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Sadique Kebonang told parliament last week.

Lack of infrastructure in rural areas near mines means that, just like Boteti, these areas are unable to reap beneficiation benefits. Kebonang added that the Boteti region has potential for other opportunities such as wild-based tourism, archaeological-based tourism and agriculture, especially cattle farming and manufacturing of leather products.

In as far as the tourism goes, the Boteti East constituency currently has 11 licensed tourist facilities all of which provide accommodation. The area is also part of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and home to the famous Lekhubu Island which is frequented by day visitors. Through the Gaing-O-Community Trust, the community of Mmatshumo village currently operates a campsite at Lekhubu Island. According to the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Wildlife, Tshekedi Khama, some potential operators have shown interest in operating quad bike activities in the Makgadikgadi Pans. He added that the government is carrying out public awareness campaigns in an effort to encourage Batswana to participate in the tourism opportunities in their areas.

“In April 2015 the Department of Tourism, in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, commenced these campaigns in Boteti West and will proceed to Boteti East in due course. The village of Mokubilo, in Boteti East, has already been covered through these campaigns. The Department of Tourism also invited a craft producer (basketry) to the Northern Letlhafula Cultural Festival to showcase her products in an effort to expose her to potential buyers. There is also an upcoming workshop for craft producers to be held on the 17th August 2015. It is also worth noting that the Botswana Tourism Organisation has also solicited and collected profiles of tourism-allocated land from the area to facilitate joint venture partnerships,” Khama told parliament.

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