Benjamin Godwin


PRISM Political Risk Management

Benjamin Godwin is a Partner and Head of Analysis at PRISM. He has more than ten years business experience in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA). Based in the region between 2007 and 2016, he worked with exporters from Europe and North America operating in the oil and gas and mining supply chains. Having worked with both government institutions and state-owned enterprises, he has extensive experience of the investment climate and the practical challenges of operating in the region. In 2016, he moved into political risk consulting at a strategic analysis firm before joining PRISM.
As Head of Analysis, he oversees all analytical work on the CCA region and has led studies on decarbonisation, transport and logistics networks, capital market developments, ESG, sanctions risks, and various regulatory risks. Aside from his work at PRISM, he provides guest lectures on political risk management and investment risk at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford University. He has also spoken at events for the Caspian Policy Centre and written publications for think tanks such as the Centre for European Policy Research. He has a master’s degree in international development from Bristol University and has studied at Kuban State University in Russia. He is fluent in Russian.

Plenary session 1 (MINEX Kazakhstan’24)
17 April 2024 / 09:30 - 11:00 | Sary Arka 2-3

Kazakhstan industrial policy and the mining sector

In my presentation, I intend to give mining industry professionals an overview of government policy towards economic development, and the opportunities and challenges that these plans will bring to the mining sector.

President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev has set out an ambitious agenda to double GDP by 2029. One key route to securing this growth is through a series of measures to support new domestic and international investment - measures that will be welcomed by the investment community. These include: tax reform, capital investment, government support for investment projects, and the liberalisation of commodity prices. Critically, the president has delegated more responsibility to the government to speed up decision making and increase accountability.

The government has also announced a bold industrial policy, whereby the government seeks to move Kazakhstan up the value chain, from a raw materials exporter to a secondary processing and manufacturing economy. The government intends to achieve this by selecting and heavily supporting specific industrial projects – including through the use of protectionist measures and export controls.

This could have a serious impact on the mining sector given that the government is prepared to restrict the export of mined goods and force miners to divert volumes of their output to local processing facilities at volumes and prices set by the government. Commodities impacted include aluminium, lead, zinc, copper, and iron. An analogous situation is also unfolding in the gas sector, whereby the government is focussing on creating domestic supplies of gas.

Another concern for the mining sector is that the government’s focus on securing specific projects by using special incentives and guarantees will reduce the effort to create a conducive investment environment. The government has made considerable progress on reforms to the subsoil code – but there is still much more work that needs to be done.