Rwanda may not be on the map when it comes to mining but Francis Gatare, CEO of the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB), is on a mission to change that.
Francis is astute in his explanation of progressing the country’s mining industry, particularly when it comes to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remarkably, Rwanda’s mining sector has been resilient and thanks to its already stringent safety measures, it was quick to safeguard itself against the virus.
At the same time, Francis is resolute in the way that the country’s mining sector can advance. Top of mind for him is that mining can contribute better to local development by making sure workers and communities see real benefits from large-scale industrial mining and that their environment is protected.
“Working towards making mining investment more attractive in Rwanda by revision of the Mining Code which could deliver potential benefits for the country.” – Jim Pooley
However, his vision is not just focused solely on Rwanda and he pays close attention to continental trends and matters. This means making sure that all countries are able to negotiate contracts with mining multinationals to generate fair resource rents and stipulate local inputs for operations.
And at regional level, it means integrating mining into industrial and trade policy.
Furthermore, Francis believes that there are lessons to be learnt from COVID-19 and that the country’s mining sector has the potential for faster growth. For instance, the country has learnt that it needs to increase the equipment mix into its operations so that it is less impacted by diseases and even human error.
Francis has also identified the need for local and regional supply chains that reduce the waiting period for product imports such as explosives and spare parts.
Most importantly, Francis recognises the primary need to encourage investment. It is for this reason that the RMB has recently reviewed its Mining Code again to encourage investment in exploration and promote downstream processing.
This includes streamlining the business environment in the country by removing administrative red tape and reducing administrative layers to have a single stop for supporting businesses. The country has furthermore been streamlining administrative and policy legislation for the mining sector.
This includes streamlining the business environment in the country by removing administrative red tape and reducing administrative layers to have a single stop for supporting businesses.
The country has furthermore been streamlining administrative and policy legislation for the mining sector.
Francis’ amendments to the Mining Code are also aimed at encouraging the junior sector to invest in the country.
Any junior mining company (both in exploration and development) has been granted a 10-year period loss carryover – in other words a decade to write off any losses incurred – necessitated by the fact that this industry segment does not often generate profits in this period.
It also offers exemption from capital gains tax.
Francis says RMB has also invested in technical institutions to train operators so that junior miners don’t have to source skilled labour from outside of the country.
Last but not least, RMB has worked in conjunction with the local banking sector to offer an exploration support facility to motivate miners to invest their own cash and work with local financing institutions to get additional financing.
This, he says, will attract investors to Rwanda.
Francis avers that adaption is key to the survival of anything, including businesses. With this in mind, he states that technology provides the opportunity to adapt.
However, it must be used effectively to provide benefits. According to him, through the digital sphere Rwanda also has new opportunities – a chance to connect with more companies and individuals.