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Under the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group’s Eminent Speakers Program, Botswana’s former President, Festus Mogae, addressed a seminar at the Bank’s Temporary Relocation Agency in Tunis. He addressed Bank Staff, officials of international organizations and members of the diplomatic corps on Thursday, December 4, 2008, on the topic "Extractive Industries and Africa’s Development: Lessons from Botswana". He had a special session with the Bank’s board of directors on the same topic after a general session with Bank staff.
The Eminent Speakers Program started in 2006 as a platform for world-renowned personalities to share their knowledge, views and experience on the daunting development challenges facing the continent. The Program is part of the newly designed framework for enhancing the visibility of the Bank as a knowledge institution. Eight seminars have, so far, been organized, with some 2,200 persons attending. Past seminars have been addressed by former heads of states, eminent scholars and former chief executive officers of multilateral development agencies.
Africa is very rich in mineral and other extractive resources. Many countries on the continent are, at present, facing promising prospects in the discovery, exploration and potential production of mineral resources. Notwithstanding the recent global slow-down in economic activities, it is not too optimistic to conclude that a resource boom may be in the offing, with new petroleum resources coming into the pipeline in a number of countries. If well handled, under an environment of good governance, this could result in broad-based economic growth and poverty reduction. However, there is evidence on the continent pointing to a high positive correlation between extractive industries and socio-political instability. Discovery of extractive industries may not, in itself, lead to political instability, but it could contribute to worsening existing social tensions, particularly where there is no system of good governance.
Mr. Mogae is at present one of the most celebrated African leaders. This is on account of his remarkable success in making Botswana one of the few success stories on the continent. More importantly, he demonstrated how mineral wealth could be used to promote rapid and sustainable development under good democratic governance. He led Botswana from March 1998-March 2008 and he is a proud recipient of the prestigious Mo Ibrahim Award for Excellence in African Leadership.