It's time to change mining in Africa, says AU officer

It’s high time there was a rethink on the way mining regimes are set up in Africa—at the very least, governments need to move beyond a “tax and spend” approach to their mining policy, African Union (AU) senior policy officer Ayoup Elrashidi Zaid said on Tuesday.

Zaid was speaking at the AU mining ministers meeting this week to look at ways in which mining can become a catalyst for economic development on the continent.

The second African Union Conference of Ministers Responsible for Mineral Resources Development is being held in Addis Ababa from Monday to Friday this week and the theme of this year’s meeting centres on Building a Sustainable Future for Africa’s Extractive Industry: from Vision into Action.

“This is the perfect time for mining ministers to meet again and move the vision into action,” said Zaid.

“Two years ago they agreed on a policy framework for linking mining with development, now there is increasing momentum as we move forward to implementation,” he added.

The African mining vision was adopted by heads of state and government at the February 2009 AU summit following the first meeting of AU mining ministers in October 2008.

Linking with Africa
The mining vision argues that until now mining has been run as an enclave activity, meaning that the economic and social linkages within Africa itself have not been as strong as they should be.

A key premise of the vision is that mining should become a catalyst for broad-based sustainable development.

According to the vision, governments in Africa have focused too much on getting revenue from mining and not enough on using the industry as a catalyst for development.

The thrust, going forward, is for the industry to do much more to encourage enterprises to develop around mining centres.

This week’s meeting will culminate with the launch of a new major report on minerals and Africa’s development drafted by the International Study Group, who was established under the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The report reviews current mineral regimes across Africa and sets out the policy implications for implementing the African mining vision.—I-Net Bridge

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