Africa urged to benefit from its vast wealth

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Sat, 04 Mar 2017 09:14:47 +0000

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AFRICAN governments need to streamline and operationalize various instruments aimed at developing and driving the mining sector in mineral-rich countries and ensure the continent benefits from its vast natural wealth.

This is because the sector is currently fraught with exploitation by investors for lack of a policy direction to govern the industry.

These are some of the resolutions made at the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) attended by over 450 civil society groups, faith-based organizations and other interest groups, biased towards the extractive industry, held in South Africa recently.

The resolutions said African governments needed to improve investment climate for enterprise development, shaped by tax regime which balances between business and investment to raise optimal revenues to fund socio-economic development in mineral-rich countries, where many nationals wallow in abject poverty amid plenty.

The meeting, held in Cape Town and dubbed “Making natural resources work for the people: domestication of the Africa mining vision: from vision to reality”, urged African governments  to  encourage communities and their allies to develop alternative environmental impact assessment studies or reports to compare and challenge those prepared by companies.

The stakeholders, in their declaration, urged political leaders on the continent to legislate corporate social responsibility programmes and not view them as philanthropic practices by the private sector.

They called on governments to recognise that ‘‘ultimate political power resides in the citizens’’ and that they could stop their governments from accepting non-beneficial agreements.

The Alternative Mining Indaba regretted that despite concerted efforts and recognition of various initiatives to fight or reduce poverty levels among the African people through the adoption of various countervailing measures, including Sustainable Development Goals among others, there was urgent need for Africa to up its policies and legislation to better the lives of its people, many of whom were still impoverished.

The meeting was held on the side-lines of the eighth international mining conference in Cape Town and attracted over 400 delegates who sought to promote investment in Africa.

They stressed that although the continent was endowed with vast mineral resources including tin, copper, gold, uranium, among others, that remained unexploited yet investors were unaccountable for its production and revenue realized from sales. “The stakeholders noted that (because of the) on-going fragility in the global economy more especially in Africa following the collapse in commodity prices and dwindling levels of external funding, mobilising domestic resources and financing for development remains a national obligation and a challenge,” the report said.

The meeting appealed to affected governments to develop an optimal land-use framework to determine whether mining should take place in a given area while investing in geological information.

“African governments should invest heavily in gathering geological information. This information should inform the terms of extractive concessions,” the declaration added in part.

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