Coal Exports and the Diversification of Botswana’s Economy

“The paper considers the opportunities and risks associated with the development of Botswana’s steam coal export sector. Given the very high coal prices on world markets achieved over the last decade together with the growing demand in India and China for steam coal, Botswana with its massive estimated potential coal deposits of 212 Bt, probably the largest in Africa, is in a position to develop a new export sector which will further diversify the diamond dependent economy. However, the potential to develop this export sector has a narrow window of opportunity because of the declining relative price of renewable energy and the changing global setting with regard to fossil fuels. Unless the necessary infrastructure is put in place soon, including a railway to the coast, the development of national water grid and industrial policy to utilize the middlings and discard from coal exports, then the sustainable development of an industry that could be part of the country’s diversification program could well be put in jeopardy.”