BY PAUL TENTENA
KAMPALA, UGANDA- The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region holds the highest potential for minerals development in the continent according to Secretary General of COMESA Sindiso Ngwenya.
He says, this potential can be sustainably harnessed through establishment of governance structures and leveraging on the existing multinational trade agreements.
“Good governance underlines the sustainable exploitation of mineral resources,” said Ngwenya said. “Harmonization of national and regional mining policies will thus underpin sustainable and broad-based socioeconomic development in the African region for the benefit of all the citizens.”
Speaking at the Africa Down Under (ADU) conference on mining that is taking place in Perth, Australia 6-8 September 2017, Ngwenya said sound institutional frameworks will enable COMESA’s national and sub-national governments to have a say in decisions regarding the use of the resources located in their territories.
In his address titled; Promoting Sustainable Mining Development through Cross-Sector Alliances and Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships in Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)’ Ngwenya noted that more and more types of mineral resources can be more fully tapped as COMESA’s countries adopt the Mining Vision of Africa.
The ADU event is an annual event aimed at raising awareness of Australia’s interests in African mining and energy. It is attended by governments, investors, mining service industry, suppliers and mining consultants.
He said: “The introduction of an appropriate policy mix and the best global mining practices in line with country specific circumstances would improve institutional capacities and fiscal governance.”
Further, he noted that multilateral trade agreement such as the Tripartite Free Trade Area signed by COMESA, East African Community and Southern Africa Development Community provides the necessary framework for multinational mining companies to do business.
“COMESA national governments should improve their mining policies in line with the African Mining Vision (AMV)’s principles of “transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of a country’s mineral resources to underpin broad-based socioeconomic development,” the Secretary General said.
COMESA’s mining industry is dominated by Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe. The Secretary General said current surge in exploration and mining in the region indicates that COMESA countries, have tremendous potential for mineral deposits.
“While improved governance of institutions is critical at sector level, COMESA national governments’ forging optimal partnerships in building spatial linkages for economic diversification can have a multiplier effect on development outcomes, particularly in its landlocked low-income economies,” he noted.
Hence, they are advised to leverage private investment portfolio efficiently in developing critical infrastructure for cross-sector development since most of their mining MNCs typically need to invest in infrastructure such as electricity generation plants, roads and ports.
In 2014, COMESA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Western Australia which established a framework for the cooperation in mineral and petroleum resources, agriculture, vocational training and capacity building.
Subsequently, a Joint Working Group has been implementing Annual Work programmes. Today, the JWG met under to review the work Programme for 2017 and plan for 2018. The Group agreed to renewal the MoU which is due to lapse in 2018.
COMESA countries that participated in the conference include Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.