Russia, Botswana seek closer cooperation

Russia became the biggest producer of diamonds in 2009, overtaking Botswana. And while there might be competition for market share, officials from the two countries think there is more space for cooperation.

Russia’s trade turnover with Africa accounts for $5 billion and includes 80% of the countries on the continent. Eager for more, Russia is in tough competition with China, the US, Europe and others whose individual investments are 10 times greater.

The pioneers of Russian business in Africa have been mostly involved with metals and oil, helping develop its natural resources and bring expertise and technology, says Roman Panov, External Assets Department Head of Norilsk Nickel.

“We have two large projects in Africa -in South Africa and Botswana. Overall investments account for $100 million, and, using the newest technologies, we are extending the life cycle of mines. Using unique processes we are working on existing mines as well as on the efficient development of new mines.”

Marketing itself as investment destination, Botswana welcomes Russian involvement in coal and metal production. Botswana Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon Makgato-Malesu, says it has advantages over some of its neighbors in its political stability and the range of investment opportunities it offers.

“We are here on the investments promotion tour. We have priorities several sectors taking in consideration what Russia has appetite for. It's primarily mining: coal because we have one of the largest reserves in the world – 200 billion tons. You can come in as FDI, set up JV or in way of partnership.”

Russia has come to the African party a little late. But it does possess specialized expertise in the industries that generate the most money for governments on the continent – namely resource extraction. So when it comes to choosing the right partner, Russian companies have both the knowledge and the finances to offer a convincing CV.