from ODIRILE TOTENG in Gaborone, Botswana
Botswana Bureau
GABORONE, (CAJ News) – A TREND by international engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) firms to setting up remote offices, with minimal staff, within the country’s borders and delegating tasks to their internationally-based head offices is seen as hampering Botswana’s mining potential.

“While this may seem efficient, this approach has brought little to no substantial local empowerment to the local engineering sector in which they operate,” argued James Othapile, Managing Director of Erudite Botswana.

He is advocating for the partnering with more localised, African-based EPCMs.

Othapile believes a significant advantage is their commitment to local ownership and skills development.

Rather than relying primarily on international expertise, these firms are credited with investing in developing the skills of local engineering and project management professionals.

Othapile said by subcontracting local companies, EPCM firms directly facilitate the growth of the local economy, creating jobs and driving income growth.

This approach is lauded for supporting the growth of local enterprises, offering them lucrative opportunities to participate in significant projects and gain exposure to the industry.

Local EPCMs also deploy comprehensive training programmes designed to enhance the professional capabilities of local workforces, which Erudite believes helps raise the skill levels within their immediate teams and contributes to a broader ecosystem of well-trained professionals.

“Sustained investment in local subcontracting and training forms an integral part of EPCMs’ strategies,” Othapile said.

“By committing to these initiatives, they can nurture an ecosystem of skilled professionals and robust enterprises,” he added.

“As we’ve seen in Botswana, the ripple effects of such an ecosystem are substantial, with potential to contribute significantly to economic growth well beyond the completion of initial projects,” Othapile concluded.

The mining and quarrying industry emerged once again as the major contributor to Botswana’s economy in 2022, accounting for 24,6 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), as per Statistics Botswana’s GDP Fourth Quarter of 2022 report.

The real value added by the coal, soda ash, and diamond industries grew by 21,8 percent, 8,9 percent and 7 percent respectively, underlining the sector’s dynamic diversity and growth potential.

– CAJ News

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