MINISTER of mines and energy Obeth Kandjoze bemoaned the lack of inclusivity in mining to enable Namibians, including women, better opportunities to contribute to the country's GDP.
Speaking at the symposium of the Chamber of Mines and other associations in Africa which kicked off yesterday, Kandjoze said government views mining as one of the leading industries where game changers should originate from, both by way of the structure of ownership, and by way of management composition.
He stressed that when he visits boardrooms of all bar a very few of these entities, what is predominant is the male composition of the boards, and that the male composition is predominantly white males.
He added that one often finds a very skewed distribution of opportunities afforded to all nationals.
"About 50% of the top jobs created again go to that same category of people I mentioned before. The very nature of mining companies wanting to further cast the jargon that they only can control finds the notion of centralised procurement practices which simply means the origin of that investment by country is where procurement is dictated," he said. He added that government simply receives the number of those employed, not knowing the distribution of jobs as in who occupies the cream of those jobs.
"I think Africa has been long aware of these practices. Just about the same numbers created by direct mining are created by procurement. The distribution is something that government should be at the centre of, and without that paper, we issue the mining and exploration licences. Without certification, central procurement is nothing," he stated.
Kandjoze said mining is the backbone of the economy, and it is a fundamental aspect of Namibian livelihoods. Mining is a major employer, and contributes 12% to Namibia's GDP, and over 50% of Namibia's foreign exchange earnings.
"Without mining revenue, half of government's activities will fall flat because it is a major contributor to revenue, and is one of those industries where if the exports of these commodities fall below half, then Namibia is affected because that revenue stops coming in," he noted. The president and chairperson of the South African Women in Mining Associations (Awima), Melody Kweba, said theirs is a platform where women take part in a male-dominated industry.
"We invite all chambers of mines to come and empower our women in Africa, as well as our ministries of mines. If we attract more women into leadership and executive positions, we can put pressure on the chamber and ministries of mines to address the needs of women. A number of women acquired licences, but due to a lack of funding, they quit the industry," Kweba said.