The United Nations Development Programme has launched, together with partners, a new centre that will help countries to best use mining revenues for sustainable development. Currently based in Addis Ababa, the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), launched here by Esperanza Biaz, Mozambique's Minister of Mines, will help implement the Africa Mining Vision, which aims to ensure the extractives sector can boost social and economic development across the continent.
The centre is co-sponsored by the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The new hub will help implement the African Mining Vision, which aims to ensure Africa's mineral resources can support economic growth and development. It will translate that vision into practical solutions for reducing poverty and involving people in development.
Experts and researchers will be made available to help countries implement the vision, advising governments, businesses and civil society organizations on issues such as licensing, geological and mining information systems, artisanal and small-scale mining and investments in diversification.
Africa's mining, oil and gas sectors are thriving, thanks to high commodity prices and improved exploration technologies that have led to important discoveries. Nineteen out of 46 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have important reserves of hydrocarbons oil, gas, coal or minerals and 13 countries are in the process of exploring additional reserves.
The extractives sector is expected to play an important role for development in many African countries, triggering growth in new and dynamic economic sectors and industries, as well as investments in jobs, infrastructure and basic social services.
"The sector provides huge opportunities for sustainable development and poverty reduction if properly managed with the right mix of policies and enforcement systems in place," said Lebogang Motlana, the Director of UNDP's Addis Ababa-based Regional Service Center for Africa.
Countries endowed with abundant pools of mineral resources are faced with a number of challenges, such as limited participation by marginalized groups like women, minorities and youths in extractive sectors, conflict over land and resources, environmental degradation and the creation of capital intensive economies that fail to create jobs and benefits for local communities.
For these resources to truly benefit people in Africa, participants said in Maputo, countries should seek to better manage mineral revenues. This entails strong fiscal responsibility and macro-economic planning, as well as policies that can maximize people's participation, reduce inequalities and ensure natural resources are used in an environmentally sustainable manner.
"The challenge is to enlarge people's choices by expanding their capabilities and opportunities in ways that are sustainable from the economic, social and environmental standpoints," Motlana added.
UNDP will provide technical and financial support to the new centre, staff some of its members and mobilize its global development network to increase capacity and knowledge of the partners involved.
UNDP brings a comprehensive package of services on managing extractive industries, advising countries and regional institutions on legislation, policy and planning, exploration and extraction focused on people, better collection and management of revenues, and investing in human development and structural transformation.
The organization is helping countries across the region, including Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, to improve their capacity to negotiate and regulate investment contracts and develop policies that link minerals with development.
A UNDP-managed facility will provide quick and direct support to countries on development and mining issues. At the launch, the UNDP Resident Representative in Maputo announced that Mozambique would be the first to benefit from that facility.
"We look forward to contributing substantively to the ongoing effort on long-term sustainable development in the context of the extractive industries boom," she said.