IN the next 7 years, government targets to earn $1.5 billion in annual revenues from mineral exports. The ambitious target is in line with the country’s strategy to fast-track development targets to reduce the current trade deficit and spur growth.
Studies and ongoing exploration projects have showed that Rwanda’s mining sector has enormous potential that is yet to be fully exploited. The new impetus is good news for the sector as increased revenues also mean that more jobs will be created, and accelerated development realised.
However, to achieve this requires a skilled labour force, which is still a big challenge. There is need for more efforts to improve the capacity of the sector in terms of modernising mining activities, skills development and value addition to the minerals before export.
Establishing a well trained labour force should be prioritised because the mining sector still largely depends on expatriates. The relevant authorities should initiate a deliberate programme to train local specialists in mining and related activities. This may require establishing of a special training institution in partnership with higher institutions of learning in the country.
Plans to upscale the mining sector by completing exploration of potential mineral areas should go hand in hand with skills development and modernisation. The mining sector is currently dominated by rudimentary traditional practices, which must be transformed to increase productivity. This will ensure that revenues from mineral exports that currently stand at $200 million a year will more than triple as projected.
With 75 per cent of the country’s mining operations currently artisanal, the reforms in the sector must be fast-tracked to ensure that the mining sector personnel is equipped with the right skills and modern technology to operate on a large scale.