Ambassador Van Vranken’s Remarks Direct Line Webinar

October 17, 2023

As drafted for delivery

Good morning to our guests tuning in from the United States and beyond. Good evening to our guests and participants here in Botswana.

Thank you for joining us for this Direct Line Webinar. I am honored to co-host this event spotlighting opportunities in Botswana’s mining sector with the Chief Executive of the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Mr. Keletsositse Olebile, who leads Botswana’s integrated investment and trade promotion authority. He is with his Director of Investment Promotion, Ms. Trunklinah Gabonthone. We are also joined by officials from Botswana’s Geo-Science Institute and the Ministry of Minerals and Energy.

I would also like to recognize the presence of officials from Premium Nickel Resources in Botswana, a Botswana-based copper and nickel mining company. They will be making a presentation on available investment opportunities within their operations.

Botswana is one of Africa’s great democratic and development success stories. It is one of the longest standing multi-party democracies and one of the United States’ most reliable partners in Africa.

It is for this reason that I will always encourage U.S. companies to consider investing in Botswana. One might look at Botswana’s small population of 2.4 million as an impediment; as I see it, the country holds tremendous potential. Its membership in various regional economic organizations leverage a large number of preferential and free trade agreements, like the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA). This gives the country access to a huge market beyond its physical borders.

Botswana’s track record of good governance, a stable macroeconomic environment, and strong fiscal discipline, coupled with incentives and initiatives to improve the doing business environment, makes Botswana an investment destination of choice.

Trust me, this does not mean there are no challenges, but it is always encouraging when the government is reachable, approachable, and demonstrates a strong political will to facilitate investment. This is why we are co-hosting this webinar with BITC. It is a testament of our strong partnership, our shared interests, and our shared values. I have also provided a platform that gives the private sector an opportunity to voice their concerns with relevant government authorities through Business Breakfast meetings that I host together with the American Business Council at my residence. I will continue leverage all opportunities within my power to address issues that affect the business environment.

In July this year when Botswana hosted Corporate Council on Africa’s U.S. – Africa Business Summit, I invited U.S. companies and Botswana companies to my residence to give them opportunity to connect.

In many ways our economic partnership is already robust. The United States is Botswana’s largest export market for rough diamonds. We are also one of Botswana’s largest suppliers of mining equipment. We recently had a local diamond jewelry manufacturer send its first consignment to the U.S. under AGOA. There is also a citrus producer that is in the process of seeking permits to export citrus from Botswana to the United States.

Botswana is well known for its diamonds but there are other plentiful minerals like copper, nickel, gold, manganese, soda ash, silver, and uranium, and the government is promoting local beneficiation of these. My co-host will elaborate local beneficiation in further detail.

This event also highlights what is a clear priority in Washington: to increase critical minerals production and diversify their supply chains to meet the challenge of climate change. Minerals are essential to the global economy and especially to the technologies powering the clean energy transition around the world. Transparent, open, predictable, secure, and sustainable supply chains for critical minerals are vital to deploying these technologies at the speed and scale necessary to combat climate change effectively.

As part of our toolkit, in June 2022 the U.S. and key partner countries announced the establishment of the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP), an ambitious new partnership to bolster critical mineral supply chains. The MSP speaks to issues of responsible mining that have socio-economic benefits to the host communities and countries while at the same time exploring the best possible investment opportunities for governments and the private sector. As a testament to this commitment MSP partners agreed on guiding principles for the
development of projects around the world with local value-add, and high environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards front and center at a meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, on February 7, 2023. The MSP partners were joined by Botswana and six other African nations that provided feedback to MSP partners during the session. We appreciate Botswana’s engagement on these issues given its tangible track record.

Let me remind the U.S. companies that are here that the U.S. Embassy is here to support your aspirations, I am here to support you. Do not hesitate to reach out to my Economic and Commercial staff who are also on this call for hands-on assistance as you explore these opportunities. They are available to provide matchmaking services, conduct due diligence checks and provide other assistance. In addition to this, the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service has over 100 U.S. Export Assistance Centers located throughout the U.S. that support and advise American businesses who want to expand globally by exporting.

Please do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about these resources. My colleague, Goitseone Montsho, will share the U.S. Embassy’s commercial team’s contact information following today’s presentation.

Thank you to all businesses joining us today and all institutions supporting the drive to achieve Botswana’s vision. We look forward to your questions at the conclusion of these presentations. I hope everyone continues to look at the U.S. Mission in Botswana as a partner, advocate, and resource. Over to you, Olivia.