CFO Isaac Lupokela finds satisfaction in taking the pioneering path

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Isaac Lupokela, the CFO who joined Sotta Mining Corporation (Sotta Mining) in June 2023, reflects positively on his decision, considering it both opportune and well-timed.

Isaac Lupokela, the CFO who joined Sotta Mining Corporation (Sotta Mining) in June 2023, reflects positively on his decision, considering it both opportune and well-timed.

With a rich background spanning advisory, telecommunications, agro-manufacturing, and cement manufacturing sectors, Isaac brings a wealth of experience to his role. Leading the finance department at Sotta Mining presents a unique opportunity that ignites his enthusiasm.

“It is a wonderful experience because unlike all the entities I worked for before, this one is at its inception. Looking at the business life cycle, I have seen companies at all stages including shake-out, maturity and decline. This is the first time I am taking an active part in the launch and growth phases. Once Sotta Mining matures, I will be able to look back with pride at having contributed to its establishment,” Isaac says proudly.

Sotta Mining is a joint venture company between Nyanzaga Mining Company and the government of Tanzania. Nyanzaga owns 84 percent of the shares of Sotta Mining with its ultimate parent company being Orecorp, a company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). As required by Tanzanian legislation, the government owns a 16 percent free carried interest of Sotta Mining.

“This project encompasses both open-cast and underground mining initiatives," explains Isaac. "As CFO, my role revolves around enhancing the project's development process. This includes establishing systems and controls to streamline operations and mitigate various risks, such as operational, financial, business, and reputational risks. Moreover, I am responsible for assembling a proficient team to drive the company's success. Ensuring effective stakeholder engagement through our established plan is also part of my responsibilities. This venture is truly exhilarating, and I find great satisfaction in pioneering something entirely new.”

Prior to joining Sotta Mining, Isaac held various finance roles at PwC, Airtel, Zantel, Kilombero Sugar Company and Tanga Cement. He is based in the lakeside town of Mwanza which is over 1,000 kilometres away from Dar es Salaam where he was born and educated. He ended up studying accounting at the University of Dar es Salaam after an intense debate with high school classmates concluded that business courses would be most beneficial for their careers.

Although Isaac has worked in various regions across the country, such as Tanga, Morogoro, and currently Mwanza, he still regards Dar es Salaam as his home. His wife and three children reside in the country's financial hub, and he travels almost every weekend to visit them. During school holidays, the family reunites, and Isaac enjoys taking them on drives around the mountainous town, treating them to the finest Lake Victoria tilapia, and occasionally embarking on drives to Serengeti National Park.

“I have no reservations working in distant towns,” Isaac says. “Being open to taking up positions outside of Dar has exposed me to varied accounting reporting and business issues. In the telecommunications sector, accounting for provisions and revenue recognition were prominent issues. One of the companies I worked for also owned towers and therefore we had to carefully consider the application of the IAS 16 standard requirements for property, plant and equipment.”

“At Kilombero, IAS 41 was also important as we had to account for biological assets which were mainly categorised into the cane roots and growing canes. There was also the capitalisation of a multi billion-shilling plant in accordance with IAS 16. We had related party transactions within the Illovo group which required us to consider transfer pricing regulations requirement and remain compliant,” he adds.

Working for Tanga Cement exposed Isaac to the listed environment as the company trades on the Tanzanian Stock Exchange. Isaac spent almost six years with the company and learnt a lot on the reporting requirements of listed entities.

He was with the company when the new International Financial Reporting Standards for revenue, leases and financial instruments were being implemented. This gave him a deep understanding of financial reporting requirements and their practical application as the company had a number of lease arrangements and financial assets that triggered the new treatment in accordance with the new standards. He therefore had to develop models that are being used by the company for reporting requirements.

Isaac holds the belief that success is subjective. According to his perspective, it consists of two aspects: achieving one's desires and contributing to what one has been entrusted with.

“At present, I believe I can address both of these dimensions of success at Sotta Mining. Witnessing the company making progress on the project development brings me fulfillment, while I am fully committed to enhancing its progress by adding value every day,” he notes.

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