Member states of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) will start applying a ‘Certificate of Origin’ system as they step up efforts to control extraction and flow of ‘conflict’ minerals.
All mineral exports from the region will have to be certified that they are not from conflict zones, especially from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), before they are put on the international market.
Rwanda is one of the countries which are spearheading the process, a senior ICGLR official has said.
Local mining companies that comply with internationally accepted standards are to be graded and issued with a certificate of compliance by the end of this year in an effort to improve the performance of the sector.
This follows the launch of a pilot project on mineral certification by the Rwanda Geology and Mines Authority (OGMIR).
According to Silas Sinyigaya, the ICGLR Programme Officer for Good Governance and Democracy, Rwanda will issue the certificates beginning next year to curb illicit trade in minerals.
“According to the data we have, Rwanda is ahead of all the other member states (10) with regard to preparing for this process,” he told The New Times on the sidelines of the 4th ICGLR Ordinary Summit taking place in Kampala, Uganda.
The official said that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will issue its certificates in the first quarter of 2012, while Uganda’s certificates will be ready by 2013.
He added that all exporters of regional minerals, as required by the ICGLR protocol, have a responsibility to indicate which mine they got the minerals from as part of efforts to combat illegal mineral trade conducted by negative forces.
“It means our minerals will be able to compete favourably on the international market since it will be easy to trace their origins,” he added.
Rwanda Geology and Mines Authority set up a mineral tagging and sealing scheme which aims at curbing illegal trading of minerals.
ICGLR member states agreed to put in place regional rules and mechanisms to address illegal exploitation of natural resources, which constitute a violation of the states’ right of permanent sovereignty over their natural resources and a serious source of insecurity, instability, tension and conflicts.
The regional grouping consists of Rwanda, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.