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African Mining Vision not widely known – Graham

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The most pragmatic, important document that sets the tone for the transformation of Africa’s mining sector, the African Mining Vision (AMV) is said not to be widely known.

Dr. Yaw Graham of the Third World Network, pointed that fact out when he made comments during the Plenary 2 Roundtable on Mineral Resources for Africa’s Development at the Eighth African Development Forum (ADF VIII), Tuesday 23 October, 2012.

“The AMV is still not widely known and its implications appreciated and debated by African citizens as well as most African state institutions and officials,” Dr. Graham said.

According to him, the AMV posits a paradigm shift away from the mining and development regime which has dominated African mining since the colonial times save for the brief period in the 1970s and 80s when African governments nationalized mines and tried but failed to restructure the mining sector’s role in Africa’s economies.

Dr. Graham believes that the analyses underlying the Vision and its objectives strongly resonate with the criticisms within African society and the expectations of citizens.

“The substantial convergence it offers between citizens and governments on the future of mining and development is a major achievement.

“However the AMV is still not widely known and its implications appreciated and debated by African citizens as well most African state institutions and officials.

He therefore argued that the success of the AMV requires long term multi-sectoral policies, institution building, as well as the transformation of existing power relations.

“It is therefore urgent that African governments, RECs, AU, ECA and AfDB work with African civil society (including the trade unions), researchers and private sector to build the broadest possible stakeholder base within African society sector as well as across public institutions,” he said.

Adding that, “This will not only firmly root the legitimacy of the AMV but also provide the political base for a collective engagement with the challenges of implementing and coordinating policies for the AMV’s success.”

Dr. Graham called on Africa’s institutions and governments to ensure policy coherence and coordination across sectors and among themselves and in international fora.

Asking questions, he said, “For example what are the implications of the bilateral investment treaties that African countries are signing, in their search for foreign investment, for industrial policy, local enterprise development and possibilities for mineral beneficiation?”

“How will the Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU affect future policy space needed for the realisation of aspects of the AMV? How will the planned Africa Continental Free Trade Area (CAFTA) take account of the Africa Mining Vision?,” He asked.

Commending the effort, he said, the AMV is the latest in a line of laudable African inter-governmental policies and processes aimed at the structural transformation of Africa’s economies.

According to him, the Lagos Plan of Action (LAP) 1980, the African Alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment Programmes (AAF-SAP) 1989 are just two examples.

He however, accused African leaders for letting themselves and their citizens down in respect of both the LAP and AAF-SAP.

He said African governments have failed by not implementing decisions they had taken, partly because of external pressure and inducement to implement donor designed policies “wrapped up in the sweetener of aid which have ended up maintaining the status quo of Africa’s underdevelopment and subordinate location in the global economy,” he said.

Dr. Graham pointed out that today there are other mining reform frameworks which compete with the AMV which some donors are actively pushing around the continent with the offer of aid and illusory short term benefits.

“It is important that African institutions and governments remain focused and act in a coordinated manner around the AMV,” he urged.

The AMV was adopted by African Heads of State at the February 2009 AU Summit following the October 2008 meeting of African Ministers responsible for Mineral Resources Development.

On Friday December 16, 2011, the African Ministers responsible for Mineral Resources adopted the African Mining Vision and Action Plan resolving to act to reform the continent’s mining sector for the good of the continent at the 2nd African Union Conference on a Sustainable Future for Africa’s Extractive Industry in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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