|Press Release on Africa-wide Civil Society Networks meeting on the Africa Mining Vision|
|Written by AIMES; ATN; ASM networks|
|Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:49|
Press Release on Africa-wide Civil Society Networks meeting on the Africa Mining Vision
29th June 2012
A meeting of Civil Society networks on the African Mining Vision (AMV) is underway in Accra, Ghana. The meeting which commenced on the 26th of June is due to end today, the 29th of June 2012. The Pan-Africa meeting of networks, coalitions and constituencies is organised by Africa Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society (AIMES) and the Africa Section of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa). The meeting is hosted by Third World Network – Africa (TWN-Af) with support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN-ECA).
The purpose of the meeting is to facilitate and deepen understanding of the AMV and related policy documents, issues and processes of Africa’s mining reform agenda and propel the actualization of the mining vision. The meeting is also convened to discuss and contribute towards the Business Plan of the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC). The vision is the collective aspiration of Heads of State and Government of the African Union and represents a significant shift from the current mining regimes operating on the Continent into a new regime where mining plays a catalytic role in the transformation of minerals-rich African countries.
The meeting is discussing range of issues including the managing and protecting community rights, livelihoods and the environment; artisanal small scale mining; fiscal policies including mining contracts and taxation; Labour decent work and equitable incomes, mineral dependent economic and international trade and investment; linkages and diversification including the role of the state; institutions and process for the realisation of the AMV; and the business plan for the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC).
In the discussion, number important issues have emerged so far ranging from the policy logic down to the implementation and the realization of the AMV. Firstly, the AMV should be the key driver of all industrial policies in African countries and that all African leaders in particular the political leaders should commit to its implementation.
Participants expressed the need for linkages within the mining sector and linkages across all other sectors of national economies. Mining should be linked to all other sectors such as manufacturing and agricultural sectors. The era where minerals are extracted in Africa and processed in Europe and other continents should come to an end. The linkages and diversification of mineral extraction is essential for job creation and the overall development of the continent
Participants therefore are calling for a radical shift in the role of the state as a mere regulator and promoter of investments in the sector to play an active and strategic interventionist role in the sector. For instance the state power should be exercised to empower local citizens and local enterprises to take their rightful place in the extraction of the Continents’ resources.
One of the important issues of consideration is ownership of the policy space, processes and enterprises. In this respect, the meeting is calling for deliberate action of the state to empower citizens and African businesses to take centre stage in mineral extraction on the continent. This can only happen when African governments take deliberate and proactive role in raising indigenous business men and women who will take advantage of the opportunities that the linkages and diversification provide in the mineral extraction.
One of the areas in which the development of local enterprises featured prominently is artisanal and small scale mining. The formulation and implementation of public policy needs to recognize artisanal miners and empower them – in terms of policy, technology and finance – to play a central role in the transformative agenda in the mining sector.
Strong views have also been expressed regarding indecent work, wage and income differentials, and displacement of communities from work and social inequalities especially between men and women’s access to work in and out of the mines. Public policy should therefore address vigorously these issues in compliance with the AMV.
The meeting also identified external threats to the reforms agenda. Key among them is the trade and investment agreements; multilateral or bilateral, that African countries have either singed or contemplating signing. These agreements could further shrink the policy space within which the reform agenda could be actualized. A clear threat is the new Raw Material Initiative of the EU which seeks to have privileged access to Africa’s raw mineral resources for the proper functioning of the European Economy. The issues contained in the raw material initiative find expression in the current Economic Partnership Agreement being negotiated between Europe and Africa countries. The logic of the initiative runs counter to that of the AMV.
Furthermore, the unrelenting contestation for Africa’s resources should be tackled strategically. The non-violent political warfare among global powers such as the US, EU and the emerging economic powers poses grave threats to the realisation of the AMV. African governments need a strategy to deal with these external powers on the continent. In this regard, policy coherence and realignment to promote integration and strengthen the negotiation positions of African governments is more than urgent.
In relation to the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC) saw this as an important axis for implementation and realisation of the AMV and called for domestic and autonomous financing mechanisms as key strategy ownership of the centre. The relevance of the AMDC prompted participants to note how aid has been used over the years as a foreign policy tool to influence policy making against the transformative agenda of African economies.
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