Arusha — THE East African Legislative Assembly has reiterated the importance of coordinating and monitoring Partner States' compliance and adherence to good governance in management of natural resources in the region.
The Arusha-based five-State regional parliament is urging the EAC Secretariat to establish an institutional mechanism that shall oversee effective monitoring and put a regional forum tasked with information sharing towards strengthening economic development.
At the same time, the Assembly wants the development of a regional mining policy that shall take into consideration those of the partner states, Africa's Mining Vision and other necessary international instruments.
"Complimenting this effort is the need to support exertion by the African Union to eradicate poverty by, inter alia, implementing the Africa Mining Vision 2050 and integrating mining into development policies at local, national and regional levels," reads the statement from EALA's Communications Officer, Mr Bobi Odiko.
EALA is issuing the statement at a time when Tanzania is still wrestling controversies arising from newly discovered natural gas resources in Mtwara Region. The recommendations are contained in a report of a previously held workshop on Governance of Natural Resources in the EAC Region adopted by EALA at its ongoing Plenary Session on Wednesday.
The workshop sought to engender a holistic approach that addresses good governance in the spectrum of natural resources management. Its objectives included: Facilitating a collective understanding of what regional parliaments can do to complement national efforts in ensuring equitable, accountable and sustainable utilization of natural resources and facilitating exchange of experiences and innovations on natural resources governance.
The workshop further wanted to ensure a collective understanding of existing ownership and revenue models and to understand the inherent revenue risks in the existing policies. The report brings to fore the fact that the EAC Protocol on Environment and Natural Resources that was signed in April 2006, is yet to be ratified by all signatories.
Debating on the report yesterday, Dr Martin Nduwimana noted that the region has ample natural resources but EAC countries and their citizens continue to languish in poverty. He called for a change in mindset on matters related to natural resources and remarked that the Assembly should produce a special issue of the "Bunge la Afrika Mashariki" newsletter dedicated to natural resources and create more awareness.
The legislator appealed for more support for the Inter-Parliamentary Relations Liaison Committee on Extractive Industries. Hon. Christophe Bazivamo noted that EAC had several minerals and that it could benefit more by building mineral factories to harness value addition as opposed to mere exports of the minerals.
Hon. Saoli ole Nkanae said equity, justice and sustainability of natural resources was needed as a pre-requisite to eradicate poverty. The Counsel to the Community, Hon. Wilbert Kaahwa said it was important for harmonization of municipal laws to be realized and that the programme initiated by EAC to realize the objective remained on course.
Hon. Adam Kimbisa noted that it was time to plan and introduce green revolution in the EAC economies to rid the region of hunger. Others in support of the motion were Hon. Chris Opoka-Okumu, Hon. AbuBakr Ogle, Hon. Leonce Ndarubagiye and Hon. Angela Kizigha.
EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera restated the importance of effecting a co-ordinated approach towards managing natural resources in the region. He remarked that the region was still capable of discovering natural resources in the years to come and promised that the Secretariat should ensure the recommendations emanating from the report are implemented.
The Chair of the Council of Ministers, Hon. Shem Bageine noted that it was time for the region to look more critically at private-public partnerships with regional stakeholders taking the upper hand in the dispensation.