Mineral wealth and the wide availability of renewables in East African nations such as Kenya and Tanzania are attracting miners and mineral processors that want to decarbonise their business.
As more miners and processors enter the region, opportunities will open up for Australian mining equipment, technology and services (METS) companies.
East Africa is one of Africa’s best integrated economic blocs and has Africa’s fastest economic growth rates. With a combined population of 287 million people, the East African Community’s gross domestic product is expected to hit US$346.17 billion in 2023, according to the IMF’s latest forecast.
Among the 7 member countries of the bloc (Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania), Tanzania has the region’s fastest growing economy. Tanzania’s economy is projected to grow by about US$17 billion from 2021 to reach US$85.42 billion in 2023. Kenya’s economy is projected to reach US$118.1 billion in 2023, up US$8 billion from 2021.
East Africa is leading the region in using renewables. This is attracting miners and minerals processors that want to decarbonise their business as they can use renewables to power their mining operations in East African nations.
Kenya generates almost 90% of its power from renewables and aims to reach 100% by 2030. Around one-third of Tanzania’s electricity is generated by hydro, though connectivity is low. The Tanzanian Government plans to increase connectivity to 50% by 2025 as it brings online several large-scale hydro and other renewable energy projects. .
As more miners come to the region, this opens up new potential opportunities for Australian METS providers, particularly around early mine development.
The region has growing potential in the extractives sector. This includes gemstones, gold, copper, nickel, rare-earths, graphite, mineral sands and other resources.
Tanzania has around 164 of the 240 mining projects active in East Africa, according to Africa Mining IQ 2022. Since the change of President in 2021, Tanzania has embarked on a major turnaround to attract new mining investment. This has resulted in an ‘Aussie boom’. In the last 2 years, 90% of mining licences have been granted to Australian companies. These companies have committed about US$3–4 billion worth of investment in Tanzania, mainly in graphite mining.
Although there are only a few mines in DRC, it has an estimated US$24 trillion in untapped mineral deposits. Around 70% of the world’s cobalt comes from a handful of mines in DRC. These are operated by a small group of companies including Glencore and Eurasian Resources Group.
Kenya is a major business hub for operations in broader East Africa. This is despite its own mining industry remaining largely dormant, due to a government-issued moratorium in 2019 restricting the processing and issuance of licences and renewal applications. The Moratorium in Kenya was partially lifted on 3 October 2023. As a result of this recent change, industry activity is expected to increase.
Australian extractives companies have a considerable presence in the region. There is goodwill towards Australia, Australian miners and Australian METS.
Government and industry offices in Kenya and broader East Africa include numerous Australian university alumni. They are familiar with and well-disposed towards Australia, and open to helping develop partnerships that can build and transfer skills, knowledge and capabilities. Localisation and local development and jobs are important to governments across the region, and it is important to harness this local knowledge in building relationships.
Businesses should be aware of and comply with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. These provide voluntary principles and standards for responsible business behaviour in a variety of areas, consistent with applicable domestic laws. They represent a global framework for responsible conduct covering all areas of business responsibility including disclosure, human rights, employment and industrial relations, environment, anti-corruption, competition and taxation. These Guidelines are endorsed and promoted by the Australian Government.
Austrade’s team in Africa has good connections with industry, government and business chambers. Our team understands African business context and culture, with access to multiple sources of market intelligence and referral partners.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 identifies mining as a key component of the Kingdom’s industry strategy. This will open major opportunities for Australian companies in the mining, equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.