By Kizito Sikuka
Africa must be vigilant in its negotiations with foreign investors to ensure that all mining deals are beneficial to the continent.
At the same time, there is need to create a conducive environment to attract investment to Africa.
This was said by Natty Davies, a former chairperson of the National Investment Commission of Liberia at the inaugural Africa Forum on Mining that is being held in Accra, Ghana from 13-16 November 2019.
“We need to strike a balance in our negotiations for mining contracts,” said Davies, who is now the co-chairperson of CONNEX Support Unit Advisory Committee, an independent international organisation that provides assistance to governments of developing and emerging countries in negotiating, renegotiating or implementing large-scale, complex investment contracts, particularly the extractive sector.
He said fair negotiations have the capacity to produce win-win situations for both the owners of the mineral resources as well as the investors, as opposed to the current state of affairs where most mining deals tend to favour foreign investors.
He challenged African countries to be aware of the exact quality and quantity of their mineral resources so that there are not short-changed in their negotiations.
Another critical aspect in negotiations is to develop vibrant legal and policy frameworks that clearly define the space in which sustainable management of the resource sector could take place.
“If a country has a good mineral and mining regulatory environment, then negotiations are easier as everyone is speaking on similar terms,” he said.
However, Davies noted that “no two mining contracts are the same,” hence it was also critical to not compromise some of the demands that may be proposed by investors.
“Africa should also not be afraid to put across its demands,” he said, adding that the governments must not hesitate to use words such as “foreigners” or “outsiders” in some of the contracts to stamp their authority since they own the minerals.
Once the mining contracts are signed, he said an important process is to ensure that the agreement is fully implemented.
As such, it was critical to invest in developing vibrant national implementation agencies that monitor and promote smooth implementation of mining contracts.
“After investing so much time in negotiations, the same amount of time should focus on implementation so that the citizens benefit,” Davies said.
The inaugural Africa Forum on Mining, which is running under the theme “Africa Mining Vision at 10: looking back, moving forward” aims to take stock on how the continent could fully utilise its mineral resources to finance its development agenda.
The meeting is organised by the African Union Commission in collaboration with various partners such as UNECA, UNDP, AfDB and the Ghana Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.