African civil society calls on governments to promote mining investments
Published on Sat, 2012-07-14 22:12
African civil society organizations called on governments to shift from being mere regulators to become promoters of investments in the mining sector at a conference convened in Accra by the Third World Network-Africa (TWN-A). The meeting was aimed to improve and deepen their knowledge on the African Mining Vision (AMV), a strategic plan signed in 2009 by the heads of State.
Governments must support national firms to take advantage of the opportunities that offers the extractive activity, dominated over the years by multinationals, according to the 50 activists and experts that participated two weeks ago in the Pan-African Civil Society Networks Meeting on the AMV.
African governments must strengthen their governance mechanism to enhance the contribution of the mining sector to national development, remarked Dr Yao Graham, coordinator of TWN-A.
"While the revival of foreign investment has expanded mineral production and exports, its contribution to social and economic development objectives has been far less certain and has even been contested in many countries across the continent," Yao observed.
According to the expert, the AMV offers a framework to shift away from the current regimes, so the mining sector can help to boost the countries economic transformation.
The AMV aims at ensuring transparency, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad based sustainable growth and socio-economic growth through downstream, upstream and side stream linkages. It further seeks to shift mineral policy beyond the focus on regimes devoted to the extraction of minerals and sharing of revenues.
This strategic plan puts the continent's long term and broad development objectives at the heart of all policy making concerned with mineral extraction. It sets out how mining can be used to drive continental development.
Abu Brima, Executive Director of the Network Movement for Justice and Development, said the meeting discussed a range of issues including, managing and protecting community rights, livelihoods and the environment, artisanal small scale mining and fiscal policies, among other issues.
The participants agreed on the view that the AMV should be the key driver of all African industrial policies and that all political leaders should commit to its implementation, Brima stated.
The mining sector must be linked with every sector of the national economies, because these linkages and the productive diversification are necessary for the job creation and the development, according to Brima.
In this direction, the meeting called for the formulation and implementation of public policy on artisanal and small scale mining in order for it to play a central role in the transformative process, he said.
The meeting identified that various agreements; multilateral and bilateral that African countries have either signed or contemplating signing, could pose a threat to the reform agenda, especially the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union.
"The government of Ghana recognizes the important role that civil society organizations plays in the development process and remains committed to work with them in Ghana and in the African regional processes for mining reforms that promote economic transformation and sustainable development," stated at the conference Mike Hammah, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources.
"Until we develop our local industries to supply significant proportions of inputs needed by the mining sector and add value to the raw minerals produced, optimizing contribution from the exploitation of our minerals will be difficult," he added.
Oliver Maponga, representative of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), remarked the need to change the current “dig and export syndrome” which has characterized the mining sector in the continent, a paradigm that has not helped the development processes.