Mining – Lerang Selolwane

Mine engineer and businessman
Lerang Selolwane left a high-profile job with De Beers in London to co-found a local company, Lucient Engineering, a major player in the local mining industry that has created more than 600 jobs and runs a group of subsidiaries which create even more.

Selolwane started off as a trainee engineer with Debswana in Jwaneng in 2004. He worked his way up before joining De Beers in 2010 as a technical assistant to the group chief executive in London, in the UK. 

He had been selected from a competitive pool of 16 000 De Beers employees. He coordinated the 2012 De Beers Strategic Review, which focused on the redefinition of De Beers’ role in the diamond industry for the next decade.

Lerang says: “I had originally wanted to study marketing because it seemed cooler and sexier. I changed to engineering because that was the only thing I could get a scholarship for. After I graduated, I took a gap year to the UK in 2003. I spent the year working every kind of odd, weird, dirty job you can imagine and partying like a rock star.

“My experience in Jwaneng gave me the skills and confidence to start and run my own business. I was an engineer at the age 26, running a high pressure engineering department of over 100 staff, with an annual budget of over P150-million”

Explaining why he came back to Botswana, Lerang says, “I’m very ambitious and my time in London brought me into contact with many wealthy and influential people. If I ever wanted to be like them, it would not happen by earning a salary. I needed to at least try to build my own empire.

“I also wanted to try and build something that was bigger than me. I wanted to create something that would feed my family and help other Batswana feed theirs.

Finally, I wanted to test myself. I wanted to see if I could do it. I did not want to wake up at 80 years old, regretting that I never took the risk.”

To young Batswana who are about to finish their studies he advises “not to focus on money or status — that will come later. Rather look for opportunities to acquire unique skills and experiences that you can later leverage to make a living.

“Focus on learning skills needed to solve society’s problems. Someone who can solve other people’s problems will never go hungry.”

Email: [email protected]

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Mike Olivier
Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.

Related stories


Subscribers only

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

Pandemic hobbles learners’ futures

South African schools have yet to open for the 2021 academic year and experts are sounding the alarm over lost learning time, especially in the crucial grades one and 12

More top stories

Zuma, Zondo play the waiting game

The former president says he will talk once the courts have ruled, but the head of the state capture inquiry appears resigned to letting the clock run out as the commission's deadline nears

Disinformation harms health and democracy

Conspiracy theorists abuse emotive topics to suck the air out of legitimate debate and further their own sinister agendas

Uganda: ‘I have never seen this much tear-gas in an...

Counting was slow across Uganda as a result of the internet shutdown, which affected some of the biometric machines used to validate voter registrations.

No way out for Thales in arms deal case, court...

The arms manufacturer has argued that there was no evidence to show that it was aware of hundreds of indirect payments to Jacob Zuma, but the court was not convinced.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…