Rwanda is among the top 20 “most exciting African mineral jurisdictions,” a new report said, citing the untapped wealth and steady rise in mineral revenue.
The report, titled “Mining in Africa Country Investment Guide 2014,” was produced as a guide for the annual African Mining Conference that kicked off yesterday in South Africa, Cape Town.
It was compiled by Global Business Reports, a Singapore-based research body.
The Minister of State for Mining, Evode Imena, is scheduled to make a presentation today at the four-day conference attended by several public and private figures from the continent.
The report says while Rwanda is new on the African mining playing field, it remains the world’s fourth largest producer of tantalum and shows potential for several other minerals.
“Where Rwanda’s mining sector lacks volume and capacity, the country has made significant strides in implementing regulatory reforms to woo foreign investors,” the report says.
“The Rwandan government has identified mining as a high priority industry in the country’s Vision 2020, and has turned a careful eye towards encouraging private sector development and expanding the country’s mineral portfolio. The government has a set goal of reaching $400 million from the mineral revenue by 2017.”
The report scrutinises all the five continental regions encompassing all African countries and outlines the top 20 mining destinations, but it avoids mentioning specific positions, saying “it is not intended as a formal ranking.”
The industry suffers lack of human resource, with just 44 people having graduated in geology or engineering, with 80 per cent of these being over the age of 60, according to minister Imena.
Efforts in mineral sector
In order to efficiently tap into its mineral wealth, Rwanda is investing in fast-tracking mine development and in capacity building.
“We now have the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre, Kigali campus, where we are training mining engineers as fast as possible. We are also sending young Rwandans to study geology and mining engineering abroad before returning to apply their skills here,” Imena said.
Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania also make it among the top 20, while southern Africa provides the highest number of countries, with Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe leading.
West Africa is represented by seven countries; Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal, while DRC is the only central African country mentioned in the top 20.
North Africa does not have a representative among the top 20 due to its focus on oil exploration and production, which according to the report, has made the mining sector in the region to be overlooked.
As required by the Dodd Frank Act, an American legislation, Rwanda implemented the international mineral tagging and traceability scheme known as ITSCi, which is a must for DR Congo and all its adjourning countries that trade in tin, wolfram and coltan.
In November, last year, Rwanda became the first country in the Great Lakes region to issue a regional ICGLR certificate for the exportation of minerals.
The government seeks to increase mineral revenue from $136.6 million (Rwf87 billion) in 2012 to $409 million (Rwf26o billion) by 2017.