25 June 2012

Africa: TWN Hosts Conference On Africa Mining Vision

Barring any hiccup, the Third World Network Africa (TWN-Africa) will, from tomorrow Tuesday 26th to Friday 29th June, host the African Civil Society conference on the Africa Mining Vision (AMV) in Accra to deliberate on issues bordering on the African mining reform agenda.

The grand event is jointly organised by African Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society (AIMES) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The conference is expected to bring together about 50 participants drawn from African civil society networks and coalitions, social constituencies from labour movements, mining affected community groups, artisanal and small scale mining organisations, gender groups, policy makers and the media.

The meeting seeks to, among other things, facilitate and deepen the understanding of the processes and substantive content of the reform agenda particularly in relation to AMV, generate common understanding about opportunities and challenges around the African mining reform agenda as well as make input into the business plan for the African Mineral Development Centre (AMDC).

The AMV is a pathway, agreed by African nations that put the continent's long term and broad development objectives at the heart of all policy-making concerned with mineral extraction. It sets out how mining can be used to drive continental development.

The AMV was adopted by Heads of States at the February 2009 AU Summit following the October 2008 meeting of African ministers responsible for Mineral Resources Development. It is Africa's own response to tackling the paradox of great mineral wealth existing side by side with pervasive poverty.

Addressing a press conference in Accra on Wednesday, Dr Yao Graham, Co-ordinator of TWN-Africa, lamented Africa's inability to fully optimise the potential of mineral resources to catalyse economic transformation despite the fact that it had been one of the key suppliers of strategic minerals to industrialised countries since colonial times.

To this effect, he emphasised the need for African governments to strengthen their governance mechanism in the mineral sector to optimise the contribution of mining to national economic development of mineral producing and exporting countries.

"While the revival of foreign investment has expanded mineral production and exports, its contribution to social and economic development objectives has been far less certain and has even been contested in many countries across the continent," he observed.

According to him, AMV document offered a framework for a shift away from the current regimes of mining towards a new set of regimes that optimizses the benefits and contribution of mining towards Africa's economic transformation.

Moving on into the new regime as envisioned by the policy document, Dr Graham called for a strong constituency of change rooted in ownership and support within the African society.

He explained that the conference would be devoted to improving and deepening knowledge and understanding of participants on nine clusters of issues of which the AMV, the action plan and the International Study Group (ISG) report had all raised concerns.

Some of the issues, he said, included managing and protecting community livelihood, human right and the environment in mining areas, fiscal policy and local enterprise development, fiscal policies and the transformation of mineral economy.

He added that the conference was expected to conclude with the adoption of a common position for advocacy on the reform agenda as well as a set of recommendation for improving the effective functioning and the business plan of the AMDC.

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