The British government has promised to frontier investment in Rwanda’s mining sector as part of their brexit plan to invest in Africa.
Lord Dolar Popat, the British Prime Minister’s Trade envoy to Rwanda and Uganda said that brexit should happen so that Brits are able to expand the investment horizons outside the United Kingdom (UK).
“Africa is the next territorial destination for us (Brits). We see Rwanda as a potential country with mining opportunities that can become Africa’s mining hub,” Popat said.
The Envoy was speaking at a British reception gala in which the British High commissioner to Rwanda hosted a delegation of representatives of 10 British mining companies who have been in Kigali to source investment opportunities in the mining sector.
The 14- man delegation attended the first ever East Africa regional mining forum in Kigali, which was organised by the Rwanda Mining Board to showcase existing 60% untapped yet rich mining investment opportunities, as a result of lack of financing, technology, proper infrastructure and processing locally.
Popat used the opportunity to encourage British companies to start a journey of investing in Africa starting with mining as the Brits continue to debate on a possible proposal to leave the UK with a deal or no deal.
“This is a short time pain for us to leave the UK but with long time gains. We have enjoyed being part of the UK however it is time to explore other areas especially Africa with a large market potential and opportunities,” Popat said.
This deal didn’t land on deaf ears, so far some British mining, geological and processing companies have already invested in Rwanda on top of the DFID laying foundation in the last three years, for this to happen.
Through the £2.4million Sustainable Development of Mining in Rwanda (SDMR) project initiated by Lord Popat and the British government, Rwanda has been able to get assistance to update its mining policy, geological mineral mapping and technical training for hundreds of miners, according to Po Lomas, the British High Commissioner to Rwanda.
Lord Popat the UK Prime Minister’s Trade envoy to Rwanda and UgandaThis ground has nurtured investment space in mining for British companies like Metalysis which is planning construction of the first $16m tantalum plant in Bugesera district in the next two months with a capacity of 120 tons per month and processing set for mid 2020.
Like many african countries, Rwanda is in need of equity investment in mineral processing and technology among others to transform the sector from artisan mining to modern mining.
However, while other British companies are planning on opening in Rwanda in these areas, others have already seen the opportunity and established in Rwanda.
These include Piran Resources (Tin,Tantalum and Lithium), SRK Exploration (technical support), Techmet which owns 25% Tinco- Rwanda’s largest tin and tungsten producer and Equatorial Mining-a New York stock exchange listed company mining coltan in Rwanda.
“We are going to look closely at the data and mineral mapping provided during the forum, so as to make an investment decision,” said Mark Parker, the representative of three British mining companies, Equator Gold, International Geoscience Services (IGS) and Andiamo Exploration, which have operations in the horn of Africa but eyeing Rwanda after attending the Kigali mining forum.
Francis Gatare, the CEO of Rwanda Mining Board and government representative, last year shared Rwanda’s mining potential with the British house of commons. He said that the pace of foreign investment is so far impressive and no turning back.
“We (Rwanda) will be the cast and show to the rest of the world as promised by President Paul Kagame, that our minerals are a blessing not a curse,” Gatare said.
The remarks also reflect the painful journey that Rwanda has gone through for the last ten years to change the narrative of possessing ‘conflict minerals’ by putting in place traceability measures of which Gatare earlier during the forum said has been a successful journey.
This comes at a time when US President Donald Trump has insisted on the enforcement of the Dott Frank act-on consumer protectionism.