As international attention shifts to Africa’s abundance of untapped mineral resources to support the renewable energy boom, global players must not be allowed to eat the continent’s lunch. Instead, it is time for local players to step into the fray and ensure that all mining and mineral beneficiation activities benefit local companies, communities and households, argues Dondo Mogajane, the former Director General of National Treasury and new CEO of the Moti Group.

A private family-owned group of investment holdings  with a diverse group of companies spanning amongst others, property development, motor vehicle trading,  aviation and mining and beneficiation, Mogajane has been tasked with transitioning the business into a more formal corporate structure, leading its expansion plans, and mentoring the Group’s next generation of business leaders.

This comes as founder and business maverick Zunaid Moti announced that he was stepping away from the organisation after 18 years at its helm, during which time he built one of South Africa’s most successful businesses. Ready for a new and exciting chapter, Moti will now be focusing his attention on his two passion projects, namely his Zimbabwe-based mining operations at African Chrome Fields and his philanthropic activities at Moti Cares – the charitable trust responsible for delivering two million meals to destitute households in the wake of the 2021 KwaZulu-Natal riots.

So, as the Moti Group now looks ahead to a new era of growth, the centrepiece of its interests will remain mining, represented by its Kilken Platinum project in Limpopo, African Chrome Fields in Zimbabwe, and lithium mining plans for the Mashonaland East province, notes Mogajane.

When approached by the Moti Group about the CEO position, he was drawn to both the challenge of working in the private sector, and to the Group’s commitment to ensuring that surrounding communities receive some of the benefit of its various activities, he explains

“With Africa’s vast resources, it’s unthinkable that the continent’s infrastructure remains so poor and that so many millions of people remain locked in poverty.

It’s time that local businesses step up to use market opportunities to our own advantage for sustainable economic growth and socio-economic development.”

For example, experts estimate that Africa is home to as much as 30% of the world’s mineral reserves, while some 30 million people across the continent are living in extreme poverty.

In response, the Moti Group is driving more environmentally-friendly, “green mining” through its Kilken Imbani Joint Venture (KIJV) with Imbani Minerals, which operates a platinum tailings retreatment processing plant adjacent to the renowned Amandelbult mine near Thabazimbi in Limpopo. This mine is widely recognised as one of the world’s most significant sources of platinum group metals (PGMs).

“This venture is essentially recycling mining waste, so not only are we working to minimise the adverse impacts of this waste on the environment, but we have also made significant investments into the surrounding community in the form of new jobs and learnership programmes,” notes Mogajane.

“In fact, this project has been so successful that we are now aiming to expand the plant and double its production.”

Likewise, African Chrome Fields has grown into one of Zimbabwe’s largest chromium producers, injecting much needed US dollars back into the country’s stricken economy, investing into new infrastructure, and creating hundreds of new jobs for surrounding communities.

Placing Moti Group’s name on the global map

As a South African black-owned business, Mogajane now hopes to place Moti Group’s name among the top mining companies in the world through the development of its lithium mining operations.

“Africa is one of the continents hardest hit by climate change, so it’s only right that African businesses not only support but guide the just energy transition by taking a leading role in the renewable energy industry.”

According to the African Development Bank, for insistence, extreme weather events and climate change are estimated to cost the continent between 5% and 15% of its annual gross domestic product (GDP), even though Africa accounts for just 3% of global carbon emissions.

With this in mind, the Group hopes to take advantage of the boom in demand for electric vehicles (EVs) through seizing market share of lithium supply for EV batteries, while playing a role in helping to reduce the global carbon emissions caused by traditional combustion engine vehicles.

Simultaneously, he is busy implementing organisational changes to guide the Moti Group into a new era and position it as a formidable global player, drawing on his financial expertise gained in the public sector at National Treasury, as well as in international financing from time spent at the World Bank.

“Our long-term strategy is focused on growth and expansion, while making a positive contribution to communities across the continent. So, our immediate objectives right now are to streamline our business operations, expand our portfolios, and achieve our vision of owning the mining space in a more positive way, while being better recognised and respected by our peers in the mining industry,” he adds.

Eye to the future

Additionally, with the input and collaboration of Executive Director Mikaeel Moti, the Moti Group is considering potential opportunities in solar power, agriculture and even banking as it weighs future growth plans.

“This is a new era for the Moti Group, and we’re ready and willing to do the work, grow, and put our name on the map,” he says. 

Boasting many years of invaluable experience in the Moti Group and armed with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting Sciences, specialising in Financial Accounting, 24-year old business protegee Mikaeel Moti has been earmarked as the next leader of the Group. He is thus currently receiving mentorship from Mogajane, while also lending the Group the benefits of his deep knowledge of its operations and his passion for community upliftment and environmental initiatives.

“Dondo is a highly skilled and experienced executive, and his vision for the Moti Group is really inspiring.

His ability to execute on that vision will be critical to our future success, and I’m enjoying working with him in taking the business to the next level as we transition from a family business to a more formal corporate structure,” says Moti.

“Additionally, we have discussed the possibility of investments into renewable energy alternatives such as solar, wind and hydroturbines. Given the continent’s energy challenges and our abundance of sunlight, solar particularly seems like a natural next step. And, given Dondo’s expertise in the banking sector, we are also opening to exploring opportunities in the sector as we believe that there aren’t enough black-owned players in the space.

This is a new era for the Moti Group, and we’re ready and willing to do the work, grow, and put our name on the map,” he says.

Finally, investments into agriculture may be on the horizon for the Group amidst the continent’s abundance of fertile, undeveloped land against a backdrop of soaring food prices and growing food insecurity.

Notably, the World Bank estimates that as many as 140 million people or one in every five Africans is facing acute food insecurity and hunger. Additionally, International Monetary Fund statistics reveal that staple food prices skyrocketed as much as 23.9% across sub-Saharan Africa between 2020 and 2022.

If global supply chain disruptions and the impact of external factors such as the pandemic and Russia’s war with the Ukraine have taught Africa anything, it’s the importance of intercontinental chain and looking to Africa’s own value chains, notes Moti.

“Agriculture is vital to combatting food insecurity and driving socio-economic development, so we need to take better advantage of the continent’s large availability of land and favourable climate conditions.

“We don’t have any definite plans on the immediate horizon, but we are eager to play a role in developing sustainable and profitable agricultural businesses across the entire value chain, from production to processing and marketing. We believe that the future of agriculture is exciting, and we want to be leaders in the field.

“Ultimately, sustainable development and responsible resource management practices are an absolute priority for us to ensure that the continent’s natural resources benefit everyone. We’re ready to become one of the continent’s leading black-owned businesses, and demonstrate just what African businesses are capable of,” he emphasises.


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