By Kizito Sikuka
African countries have begun the process of assessing whether its vast mineral resources are benefiting its citizens or outsiders. The assessment follows a realisation that despite the huge amount of mineral resources that is in abundance across the continent, African countries remain among the poorest in the world.
In fact, the majority of countries in Africa continue to export minerals such as gold, diamond and platinum in their raw or unprocessed form, and later import them back as finished goods.
To address some of these challenges, the inaugural Africa Forum on Mining that is meeting from 13 to 16 November in Accra, Ghana is taking stock on how the continent could fully utilise its mineral resources to finance its development agenda.
Speaking at the forum, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources of Ghana, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh said such an assessment “gives all of us hope that the continent is desirous of finding workable solutions to the paradox of great minerals wealth existing side by side with pervasive poverty.”
He urged African countries to implement the Africa Mining Vision (AMV), adding that the mining sector had the capacity to promote sustainable development in Africa.
Launched in 2009, the AMV is a policy framework that charts a path for generating and realizing various types of linkages arising from the mineral sector through industrial development and technical upgrading.
Speaking at the same occasion, Commissioner for Trade and Industry at the African Union Commission, Ambassador Albert Muchanga said since the adoption of the AMV a decade ago, the importance of minerals, both globally and in Africa, have increased significantly, as a result of the growing demand and fears of supply shortages.
“While resource-rich African economies continue to embrace reforms to optimise the socio-economic and financial benefits from their mineral sector, new challenges compel for more efficient and smart policies,” he said.
Muchanga said it is therefore not a mere coincidence that the inaugural African Forum on Mining is being held exactly 10 years since the adoption of the AMV.
“During the last 10 years, a number of stakeholders have come forward in support and while others criticized the AMV for addressing and not addressing certain important elements.
“The Forum therefore provides us all with an opportunity for frank discussions on all emerging and recurrent policy issues within the sector and decide for ourselves the focus on the future we want for the African mineral sector.”
He said the Forum running under the theme “Africa Mining Vision at 10: looking back, moving forward” will now be an annual event to be held every year around October and November.
The Africa Forum on Mining is being organised by the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with various partners including the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the United nations Development Programme (UNDP), the African Development Bank (AfDB)Mo and the Ghana Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
According to a statement from the African Union Commission, the outcomes of the Forum will, amongst others, feed into global and regional discussions, including informing the AMV revision process and AMV implementing partners’ programmes in Africa.