Civil Society’s Commitment to the Promotion of the Africa Mining Vision

Opening Statement by Dr Claude Kabemba, Director of the Southern Africa Resource Watch, on behalf of Civil Society

Her Excellency Mrs Fatima Haram Acyl, Commissioner for Trade and Industry (AUC)

Ms Fatima Denton, Director Special Initiatives Division    at the UNECA

Representative of UNDP

Representative of the African Development Bank

Representative of African Governments

Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Colleagues from civil society

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to address this August assembly on behalf of the African Civil society. Civil society from across the continent is represented in this meeting and will be making a significant contribution to shape the Africa Extractive Industry Governance Framework (AEIGF). The presence of these foot soldiers is a demonstration of Civil Society’s commitment to a structural transformation of the extractives industries on the continent.

On behalf of my colleagues from civil society, I wish to express my profound appreciation to the people of Ethiopia for their warm hospitality since we arrived in this beautiful and growing city of Addis Ababa. 

I also want to recognise and thank you the staff at the African Mining Development Centre (AMDC) for their sterling efforts to arrange the logistic for most of us. I extend my gratitude to all the participants for making the time to participate in this important policy conference which has the potential to change the future of the mining industry on the continent.

Excellences, Distinguished Guest, ladies and Gentlemen  

Six years ago when the Heads of State and Governments adopted the AMV they signalled their recognition of the need for a paradigm shift in the role of minerals in Africa’s economies. Since the adoption of the AMV in 2009, important work has been done to ensure its implement: the action plan has been adopted, a handbook for the “domestication” of the AMV within national policies has been drafted, and the AMDC has been established. Since its establishment the AMDC has provided technical support for requesting countries in formulating domestic mining policies in line with the Vision. It has also cooperated with a number of CSOs to raise awareness of the AMV.

Excellences, Distinguished Guest, ladies and Gentlemen  

We are assembled here at the time when the continent is struggling to deal with the commodity prices slowdown. It is not the first time that we find ourselves in this situation. What is important to recognise is that Africa is always found unprepared to deal with changing patterns in commodity prices. The collapse of commodity prices is forcing certain governments to abandon reforms --whether of the mining codes, fiscal regimes, contracts negotiations-- which they started at the pick of the boom in an effort to adjust the imbalance and injustice in the distribution of benefits. The slowdown in commodity prices, distinguished guests, should not be seen as a threat but an opportunity for us to put our house in order in expectation for the next boom, which will come.  Civil society is convinced that the AEIGF will lead toward structural transformation of the mining sector that is beyond the boom and bust of global mineral markets.

Equally, due to this global context there is increased push-back of the AMV by mining companies and their apologists who are keen to promote different policy frameworks running counter to the AMV.  This is why civil society supports the current initiative for Africa to have its own monitoring framework that provides a coherent Africa’s response to the proliferation of parallel international governance instruments.

Excellences, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

We are also meeting at the eve of the 7th Annual Alternative Mining indaba. It took place in Cape Town from 8th to the 10th of February 2016. It brought together over 350 participants from civil society organisations (CSOs), faith based organisations, academics, mining communities, labour, industry associations, Media, and international partners to discuss critical issues in the extractive industry, especially the impact of extractive on mining communities and the environment. For the first time since the AMI has been in existence a formal presentation on the AMV was made, followed by an intense discussion. Thank you to the AMDC for taking the initiative. If you read the final communique of the 7th annual AMI, most issues that Civil Society raised can find resonance within the different pillars of the AMV.

Excellences, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the period since the adoption of the AMV, its related documents and the establishment of the AMDC as the strategic focal point for the realisation of the Vision, a growing number of CSOs, trade unions and CSO networks   – national, regional and pan-African - have carried out outreach and capacity building aimed at increasing knowledge of the AMV and to build an advocacy constituency for implementation. The AMV has been an important part of the work of Third Word Network, Southern Africa Resource Watch, AIMES (and its members) since 2008 and has also entered the work streams of IANRA, Publish What You Pay, ITUC-Africa and Tax Justice Network, and many national CSOs across our continent. The AMV has also been on the agenda of International organisations such as Oxfam, The Norwegian Church Aid and African Foundations of the Open Society Foundation. Some of the work stream of these organisations has included building alliances of networks and organisations with diverse thematic focus and social bases towards a common advocacy purpose for moving the AMV from official aspirations to effective policies for change.

 It is also important to recognise the efforts being deployed by Regional Economic Blocs to promote and implement the AMV. For example, ECOWAS has taken steps to develop regional versions of the AMV and its Action Plan, and SADC has initiated a number of studies on skills, value additions and harmonization of mining policies and has adopted an industrialisation strategy all aligned to the AMV.  

Excellences, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Civil society, despite its total commitment and involvement in the AMV and the many milestones achieved, it is concerned by the lack of political will to implement the AMV by African governments.  Beside the Kingdom of Lesotho which has domesticated the AMV with the support of the AMDC by aligning it to its mining policy, there is not another country where mobilisation and organisation around the reform agenda of the AMV is an overtly dominant political influence.

This is why in November 2014, civil society organised an African wide conference of over 70 activists in Lusaka, Zambia to evaluate the progress in the implementation of the AMV. The conference major conclusion was that five years after the adoption of the AMV, the balance of progress on the implementation of the policy agenda has been mixed at best, but in reality has not lived up to the hopes generated when the vision was adopted. In many countries, there is an absence of a conscious, systematic adoption of the AMV and its Action Plan.   At most, whatever minimal progress registered have been ad hoc , such as steps to revise mining fiscal regimes and renegotiate contracts, which reflected some of the key concerns of the AMV. However these have been outside the AMV, and with little or no reference to it.  In particular, key progressive pillars of the AMV relating to economic transformation through linkages between mining and the rest of the economies, artisanal and small scale mining (ASM), rights of communities and workers have been virtually ignored. Many African governments continue to devote more attention to foreign aid related mineral governance frameworks originated from outside the continent.

The Lusaka conference affirmed its collective conviction that the AMV and its Action Plan represent an important positive strategic shift in African policy thinking about the role of minerals in Africa’s development by offering a comprehensive, multi-sectoral framework for structural economic transformation with equity. Participants suggested that the AMV should be the hub which defines and drives our various national visions and plans for minerals and development.

Excellences, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The path of Africa’s development aspirations is littered with pan-African schemes which failed for a variety of reasons.  The continent has a history of passing resolutions and coming up with policy frameworks without implementing them or implementing them badly. Our presence here is to guard against the AMV following the same fate.  We are convinced that the Governance framework will strengthen galvanize and orientate our efforts to achieve the AMV’s goal of a “Transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development”

 As we do our work during the coming two days, we should guide against creating a Framework that is difficult to implement due its complexity, and to our financial and institutional capacity limitations. The Framework must be SMART and clear in its objectives. Some of the key characteristics and values of the Framework if we are to achieve the goal of the AMV should include:

  • It must demonstrate Africa’s commitment to gender justice and inclusion, inclusive growth and development. This is why economic diversification and a reconfiguration of the relationships between African states, multinationals, and citizens are critical.
  • It must abide to the principles of transparency, accountability, equity, justice and inter-generational sustainability.
  • It must address poor governance, human rights and environmental violations in the mining sector.
  •  It must promote value addition to move us away from the colonial trap of exporting raw materials.
  • It must close the gaps in our system to sensibly reduce illicit financial flows. It must guarantee the disclosure of beneficial ownership of mining and related companies as well as strengthen the capacity of national administration to manage and monitor the sector.
  • It must address the weaknesses in existing governance mechanisms, which is one of the reasons we have decided to come up with a home gown framework. 
  • It must also promote regional integration by supporting harmonization and consolidation of mining policies, including fiscal regimes and value addition to underpin regional industrialization.
  • It must continue to be built, including at implementation stage, on the multi-stakeholder approach to ensure ownership and sustainability.

Excellences, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The AMV and its Action Plan embody key reform demands that CSOs and various social constituencies had been making in respect of the mining regimes prevailing across Africa and the overall direction of national development strategies. This is why we appreciate the conviction of the organisers in the benefit of an inclusive approach which places civil society as a key partner in the construction of the AEIGF. Once again, on behalf of my colleagues from civil society, I want to salute the AU and AMDC for an inclusive approach taken in the design of the Africa Extractive Industry Governance Framework. 

Thank you