The 3rd Ordinary Session of the African Union Conference of African Ministers Responsible for Mineral Resources Development between 13-17 December 2013 in Maputo, Mozambique, under the title Leveraging the Africa Mining Vision for Africa’s Renaissance Towards Broader Ownership, intended to address important issues related to the development of mineral resources on the African continent.
The main purpose was to identify and design strategies and policies of mineral resources through the African Mining Vision (AMV), adopted by Heads of State at the February 2009 AU Summit. Particular importance during the conference has been attached to the promotion of value addition and economic transformation as significant components of further economic development. Avoiding commodity export dependency through beneficiation and economic diversification is crucial in order to achieve long-term sustainable growth, reduce poverty and raise living standards.
African Minerals Development Centre Launch
From the very beginning of the five day conference the scene was set to review the business plan 2013-2017 for the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC) serving the purpose of an institutional framework to achieve implementation of the AMV. That the AMDC is now finally launched and open for business is really good news for the African economies in general and the mining sector in particular. UNECA Officer-in-Charge Ms. Fatima Denton called the AMDC launch “a re-writing of new history, a new social contract and structural transformation in the management of Africa’s mineral resources”.
The idea behind the framework is simple: it is envisioned to make efficient use of Africa’s mineral wealth for inclusive development and broad-based economic growth. By means of providing better governance structures for the mining sector and strategic operational support for the Vision and its Action Plan, the launch of the AMDC makes high promises for a well-governed mining sector that is socially inclusive and environmentally accountable. A positive side effect of the Centre is expected to be the development of a highly skilled and knowledge-driven mining sector promoting the transformative role of mineral resources in the continent’s development. Hence, the framework shall overcome deepening inequalities and the lack of sufficient and high productive jobs to secure peace and security on the African continent.
What is Next?
The extractive sector can play a significant role for economic transformation in Africa, when it is able to foster cross-sectoral linkages to other industries to further diversify, develop and transform African economies. But to be a successful framework indeed, achieving the objectives linked to it, the African countries must grasp that unique opportunity of sustainably transforming their economies through sound rules, efficient institutions and good governance supporting the AMDC. To be a real “milestone”, as African Union Commissioner of Trade and Industry, Ms. Fatima Haram Acyl put it, African countries are called to make good use of the institution and its facilities. She calls the AMDC “an urgent call and road map to put to good use our mineral resources to bring development and improve the welfare of the African people”. It remains to be seen however, in how far the particular African countries are able to meet their high expectations of the African developed and owned framework.
What is clear though is that it is yet another move in the right direction, “a unique window of opportunity to address the gaps in governance and economic management”, as African Development Bank (AfDB) Country Representative of Mozambique, Joseph Ribeiro, evaluates the institution. By adding another strong and more accountable institutional layer to the African governance landscape, the AMDC has indeed great potential to foster economic growth based on Africa’s tremendous mineral resource wealth. Now it is the African countries’ turn to establish a close working relationship between national and regional organisations as well as the private sector to harness the potential of mineral wealth as a transformative power on the African continent.
The views expressed here are those of the author, and may not necessarily represent those of ECDPM.