Development experts have urged African governments to incorporate the mining sector into their development agenda in order to benefit from the wealth generated from the sector.
According to the experts, there is a lot of untapped potential within the mining sector that could facilitate poverty reduction.
“Many of them are silent with respect to mining and yet if you do not have mining in your poverty eradication strategies, there is a number financing instruments that will not be directed to mining,” Antonio Pedro, the Executive Director of the UN Economic Commission for Eastern Africa (UNECA) said yesterday.
He was addressing delegates from 13 African countries attending a high level 3-day regional dialogue under the theme “Accessing Mineral Rights with Equity.”
Yet in some countries, he said, the mining sector is one of the most important sectors generating a lot of revenue for the economy.
Pedro also mentioned that most countries have not incorporated mining into their private sector development strategies crippling the potential of local entrepreneurs to get actively involved in the value chain within the sector.
“There is need to understand that the benefits of mining go beyond mineral revenue; you have to take into consideration things like infrastructure, technology and skills transfer, facilitating local procurement of goods and services and having your local SMEs participate in that value chain,” he said.
Referring to the African Mining Vision, a strategy for moving Africa away from being a source of unprocessed minerals towards the production of value-added goods from its mineral resources, Pedro also emphasized the need for integrated and regional African mineral development.
Organized by the UNDP Regional Project for Capacity Development for Negotiation and Regulation for Investment Contracts, and UNECA, the conference aims at assisting African governments to strengthen their capacity to negotiate better and manage complex large scale investment contracts in the mining sector.
According to Raja Kaul, the Project Manager UNDP, for African countries a primary challenge to addressing issues of sustainable development in the context of natural resources continues to be the development and building of capable domestic capacity.
Currently, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Congo (Brazzaville), Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Tanzania have benefited from the UNDP project which is demand driven.