Botswana is no longer Africa’s most attractive destination for mineral investment, being displaced in the latest Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies by Morocco, Ghana, Liberia and other states.
The survey, which is eagerly anticipated by investors annually, is an attempt to assess how mineral endowments and public policy factors such as taxation and regulatory uncertainty affect exploration investment.
According to the results released last week, Botswana’s investment attractiveness ranking in the survey fell to 64 out of 84 countries in 2021, compared to 11 out of 77 in 2020. The major disincentives for those surveyed included concerns over the uncertainty concerning protected areas, political stability, labour regulations, employment conditions and the taxation regime.
Fraser Institute researchers did not give details on investors’ concerns about protected areas, but in terms of political stability, it is believed the well-publicised fallout between the current regime and former president Ian Khama could have had an impact.
Commenting on the drop, Botswana Chamber of Mines CEO Charles Siwawa said the country’s drop in the rankings was due to the impact of COVID-19 as the mining industry was affected.
"We will bounce back and have already started to work on the challenges that we faced,” he said. “We also use the Fraser survey to enhance ourselves.”
Botswana has been the most desired mineral investment destination in Africa for most of the Fraser survey’s 24 years. In 2015, Namibia topped Botswana for the first time due to a perceived fall in the latter’s mineral endowment potential.
All African jurisdictions, with the exception of Namibia, Tanzania, and Mauritania also saw declines in their policy scores. Morocco was featured in the 24-year-old survey for the first time and proved to be an immediate hit with mineral explorers.
“Africa’s median policy perception index score decreased by almost one point, with four African jurisdictions, which included Zimbabwe, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali being ranked in the bottom in the overall investment attractiveness,” reads the survey.
The median score for Africa on the Investment Attractiveness Index showed a decrease of almost nine points this year. Africa was the second least attractive region for mining investment when accounting for both mineral potential and policy, according to miners.