African Regional Mechanisms

The plethora of global resource sector governance initiatives and institutions are complemented by mechanisms that are gradually evolving in Africa. As targets and recipients of global regimes of restraint, African mechanisms have attempted to borrow and incorporate global norms, standards, and strictures within the overarching framework of African responsibility captured in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). In crafting these institutions, Africa has faced the formidable challenge of balancing international restraints and local responsibilities. Moreover, as some regional mechanisms seem to duplicate global instruments, questions have been raised about whether resources should be devoted on the reiteration of existing norms or whether the priority should be domestication and implementation. Responding to the passage of Dodd-Frank, Mo Ibrahim counseled that Africa needs to “ensure that we are enacting similarly transparent legislation. If we are to ensure good governance—covering all aspects of transparency, corporate and social responsibility—becomes the norm in Africa for all foreign investors and African governments, it can only be achieved through domestic legislation.”

The African Union (AU) took the lead in 2009 by unveiling the African Mining Vision (AMV) as the continental framework for natural resource governance. The objectives of the AMV are transparency, equity, and optimal exploitation of natural resources; in addition to building multiparty engagement in the management of natural resources, it puts emphasis on the integration of mining enclaves into local and national development objectives." name="_ftnref1" title="">[1] The AMV aims at ensuring that mining activities benefit Africa primarily, and in the long term ensure the transformation of the continent from an exporter of raw materials to a manufacturer and supplier of knowledge based services. Four years since its articulation, the AMV still faces constraints in transforming the vision into effective policy. Among the factors that have hampered this transformation are the nature of existing contractual obligations of some member states, the asymmetric relations between African states and multinational corporations, weak funding and limited state capacity." name="_ftnref2" title="">[2]

The AU has also addressed the issue of resource governance as part of the process of peace building and reconstruction in post-conflict societies. The AU’s policy framework on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development adopted in 2006 calls for the creation and strengthening of frameworks that promote the sustainable and equitable management and exploitation of natural resources as part of the transition to peace in post-conflict societies (African Union 2006). Alongside the AU, the African Development Bank (ADB) has a number of governance initiatives to support member states implement resource governance mechanisms. The main aim of the Bank’s Governance Strategic Directions and Action Plan (GAP) 2008-2012 is to strengthen transparency and accountability in the management of public resources at the sector, country and regional levels, with particular emphasis on the extractive industries. The ADB created the the African Legal Support Facility in 2008 to assist countries to negotiate complex commercial and extractive industry contracts and thereby resolving problem of asymmetric relations between African actors and MNCs.

African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other regional mechanisms are incrementally incorporating natural resource governance in their treaties in the search for collective solutions; rhetorically, these institutions have indicated willingness to promote more participatory or inclusive processes in the management of natural resources in their sub-regions.  Most of these provisions borrow primarily from existing international mechanisms.  In 2008, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) adopted provisions on “Natural Resource Governance” included in Articles 64 – 67 of the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF). The provision seeks to ensure that the management processes for natural resources are transparent, equitable, environment-friendly and ensure a balanced and sustainable development, social cohesion and stability. Article 65 of the ECPF seeks to facilitate the establishment of a network of relevant government institutions, private sector organisations, NGOs and community structures to develop and apply regional norms and standards in natural resource governance, based on the models provided by existing national, regional and international mechanisms such as the Kimberley Process." name="_ftnref3" title="">[3] It also highlights the need for member states to develop a mechanism for peaceful resolution of natural resource-related conflicts within the sub-region.  In Southern Africa, SADC adopted a Protocol on energy which aims to promote stakeholder (citizen and private sector) participation and environmental protection in the development and use of natural resources. SADC’s mining protocol also seeks to promote the adoption of common certification standards for minerals from the region." name="_ftnref4" title="">[4]

Apart from sub-regional initiatives to promote resource governance, there are some inter-governmental agencies that have tried to respond to specific sub-regional concerns, including the promotion of peace and the sound management of natural resources. The most prominent are the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC).  At the ICGLR’s December 2010 summit in Lusaka, member countries adopted the Regional Initiative on Natural Resources (RINR) which includes mineral tracking, certificate issuance, an operational database and audit protocol. The RINR adopts six tools to fight the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the region: a regional certification mechanism (RCM) for cassiterite, wolframite, coltan and gold; the harmonization of national legislation; the formalization of the artisanal mining sector; a regional database on mineral flows, the promotion of the EITI and a whistle-blowing mechanism. Although member states of ICGLR did not meet the December 2011 deadline for launching the RCM (the core tool of RINR), many countries are working to begin certifying their minerals." name="_ftnref5" title="">[5]

The Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) was established in February 2001 by Angola, Cameroon, the DRC, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe. The commission aims to harmonise respective state policies on the exploitation of natural resources, including the development of a framework for legal regulation of oil multinationals operating in the region, the protection of the region’s environment and the provision of a framework for dialogue, prevention, management and settlement of conflicts between member states. Despite the commission’s important goals and the strategic importance of the Gulf of Guinea in global economic and political relations, the implementation of the treaty remains weak.  As of 2011, measures were still being taken by member states to introduce the treaty in to their respective legal frameworks.  Further, there is very limited knowledge on the commission, both at the academic and local levels, thereby creating challenges for the domestication and local ownership of the Treaty." name="_ftnref6" title="">[6]

" name="_ftn1" title="">[1] African Union, African Mining Vision. Addis Ababa, AU, February 2009.

" name="_ftn2" title="">[2] African Mining Vision.

" name="_ftn3" title="">[3] ECOWAS, Conflict Prevention Framework. Abuja: ECOWAS, 2008.

" name="_ftn4" title="">[4] SADC, Protocol on Mining. Gaborone, SADC, 1997; SADC; SADC, Protocol on Energy. Gaborone, SADC, 1996.

" name="_ftn5" title="">[5] D. Verbruggen, E. Francq, and J. Cuvelier, Guide to Current Mining Reform Initiatives in Eastern DRC, Antwerp, IPIS, 2011, 17.

" name="_ftn6" title="">[6] Freidrich Ebert Stiftung Abuja, Overview of Existing Regional Initiatives in the Oil 

and Gas Sector in the Gulf of Guinea,” in Michael Roll and Sebastian Sperling, Fuelling the World – Failing the Region? Oil Governance and development in Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, Abuja. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2011, p, 129.