Botswana president Masisi to feature at Mining Indaba as Covid-19 variant threatens region

President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi

BOTSWANA president Mokgweetsi Masisi is the latest head of state confirmed to deliver a keynote presentation at the Mining Indaba conference, scheduled for February 2-3.

His confirmation follows that of South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and comes amid a growing Covid-19 crisis in southern Africa which has been hit heavily by a new variant of the virus. Scientists think the virus variant is between 50% to 70% more transmissible.

According Charlie Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital, non-pharmaceutical methods to control the spread of the virus, such as lockdowns, tend to be less effective in emerging economies where the population has limited work from home options. The failure of vaccine rollouts so far is also a critical risk factor for the region.

“The choice facing southern African governments is terrible. Do they send the economy back into deep recession, trying to enact a lockdown that they know won’t work, and build up debt levels that will be hard to afford? Or do they let the virus spread and accept a big rise in deaths?” said Robertson.

“If vaccinations can be accelerated, children could be sent back to school, adults can get back to work and countries that need economic growth the most can get back on the right trajectory.

“The best belated Christmas present the West could give would be vaccines to these countries being hit so hard,” he said.

This year’s Mining Indaba will be held virtually. Heads of state from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone have also confirmed their attendance at the conference.