Despite being the fountainhead for much of the continent’s corruption, natural resources have for ages been the core of many African economies. And, notwithstanding market volatility and the recent slump in global commodity prices, natural resources are likely to continue representing a significant growth opportunity for countries in Africa in the future.
Underlining the importance of natural resources in sustaining economies, representatives at the Mining Indaba conference, which was held in Cape Town, South Africa on 6 – 9 February, were strident in calling for reforms and the need for a more transparent approach in mining deals.
Mining Indaba, the world's largest mining investment conference and the largest mining event in Africa, saw the African Development Bank (AfDb) take the leadership role in helping African governments ink better deals at the negotiating table. In addition to the Bank representatives, a two-hour session at the conference attracted private sector and government representatives. Led by the African Natural Resources Center (ANRC) the session identified some of the key challenges and opportunities of supporting negotiation amongst the various stakeholders, such as private sector, civil society organizations, development partners and regional institutions.
A diverse mix of delegates, from the private-sector, representatives from governments, civil society organizations, and regional bodies across Africa and beyond, were unified in their call for greater transparency in negotiations over mining projects and strong endorsement for the Africa Mining Vision (AMV) Compact. The AMV Compact was launched at last year’s Mining Indaba, where it received early support from the Mining Industry Association of Southern Africa (Miasa). The compact was designed to close existing gaps between mining communities, the private sector and governments and comprises of a set of 12 principles designed to offer improved value and benefits to all parties involved.
All 54 African Union member States had adopted the AMV Compact, which ensures that mining activities contributed to economic transformation and benefited all African citizens. However, successful implementation of the compact relies on buy-in from the private sector and other key stakeholders in Africa, at both regional and country levels.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was guest of honor at the special session, said the AMV Compact was important to the continent and it was crucial that its aims were realized. He noted that the compact encouraged cooperation by emphasizing the business benefits the private sector would derive from the AMV Compact’s implementation at national and regional levels. The compact, he said, paves the way for sustainable use of mineral resources and good governance with cooperation and collaboration of the private sector.