Botswana must diversify to reduce dependence on diamonds -president

President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - It is “more imperative than ever” for Botswana to diversify into other commodities such as gold and base metals, after an abysmal year for the diamond market hurt government revenue, Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi said on Wednesday.

The COVID-19 pandemic upended the global diamond industry, and Botswana must curb its overdependence on the precious stones, the president told the Investing in African Mining Indaba.

Botswana aims to develop other minerals, including coal, which the country has an estimated 212 billion tonnes of.

Masisi said the government is working with neighbouring countries to develop infrastructure to export coal.

Reporting by Helen Reid; editing by Jason Neely