In a move to better protect Rwanda’s mining competitiveness amid a commodity slump, the East African country has shown a notable growth in the tracking service provider industry.
Better Sourcing is one of the companies that are making use of the growth opportunity as well as trying to use the technology to conduct more research in the industry to stimulate investment in lagging minerals.
“We are currently focused on a sector that is very important for the Rwandan economy and that is the three Ts sector, tin, tungsten and tantalum – we think that this sector is a promising one for Rwanda, unfortunately it is being characterised by reluctantly low levels of investment and this is a situation that has also plagued neighbouring countries, the DRC where we also operate,” said Benjamin Clair, Director at Better Sourcing.
“Basically we are trying to bring a little bit of innovation to this sector, we are really a service provider to small scale Rwandan mining operators to try and help them access international markets for minerals on favourable terms,” he added.
Clair says this was initiated through the “scrutiny” by international brands and consumers who do not want to be associated with negativity in mining – so through modern traceability systems and government communication, Better Sourcing has tried to make the country’s mining more transparent.
He says first you have to make that what is happening at the mine sites is under control and that it is insured that no smuggling or supply chain contamination can happen.
“We work in collaboration with the government but we deploy field agents with a mobile phone collecting ongoing information from the mine site to reassure us and reassure our international partners that the situation at this mine site is well controlled.”
Clair says the monitoring data can be transferred though a Global System for Mobile communication network, a digital mobile telephony system or through the 3G network.
“Secondly, from that mine site that you monitor to exports, we did not change the model at this stage – some of the partners we are involved with are interested in the geological fingerprinting of materials but at the moment we’ll be sealing bags of materials at the mine sites and checking the weight when it’s sealed, scan the cards of relevant stakeholders that are involved in that process.”
He adds: “When the bag arrives in Kigali, we then scan the weight upon arrival and then scan the cards of relevant stakeholders and then all the data collected at the mine site is reconciled with all the data collected at the export point.”
Clair explains that it does not mean that no one will try and beat the system but it gives operators and the Rwandan government tools to find the issues quickly and respond.