UNECA partners AngloGold Ashanti to boost capacity in Africa’s mining sector

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and mining company, AngloGold Ashanti, have announced a  partnership towards the formation of the African Mineral Skills Initiative (AMSI).

AMSI is aimed at enhancing knowledge and skills in Africa’s mining sector.  The announcement was made during the Eighth African Development Forum on Tuesday October 23, 2012, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

With existing educational institutions in many African countries not adequately resourced to meet the growing demands of the African mining sector the two partners underscored the need to boost training and skill development.

“Our current focus seems to be mainly on collecting taxes, whereas it should be on using the sector and its resource rents to drive socio-economic development. This means investment in infrastructure, research and human capital development, through conditionality for local content.   This is what other regions have done, this is what Africa needs to do” affirmed  Carlos Lopes UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ECA.

He further noted the need to continuously build human and institutional capacities, to create knowledge based and competitive natural resources sectors. This requires strengthening our bargaining power to negotiate better contracts.

“Notable examples are unjustifiable tax holidays, illicit financial flows, or poorly articulated resources for infrastructure swaps.  It will also mean building up domestic capacities and skills to participate in the natural resources value chain.  Similarly, our institutional frameworks and political processes must steer the natural resources sector in such a way that its supports transformation”, said Lopes.

AMSI is hinged on three core pillars:  Focusing on broad skills development in Africa in relation to the minerals sector; taking a holistic view of skills and institution building for the minerals industry; and supporting locally-owned delivery of skills and opportunities through selected African mining schools.

Richard Duffy, Executive Vice President for Africa at AngloGold Ashanti, for his part highlighted the importance of the African Mining Vision (AMV) as a valuable document that has brought a renewed energy and focus to the vital role that mining and minerals can play in helping Africa achieve its development goals.

“Through the AMV, African governments have identified minerals as a potential catalyst to socio-economic development- but they have also offered a frank analysis of the barriers that currently prevent the full realization of that development. One such constraint is lack of human capacity and skills development within Africa. The mining sector in Africa is booming- and it needs skills, but the continent’s educational institutions are not currently in a position to meet this growing demand for a broad range of skills”, noted Duffy.

He therefore, reiterated the need for governments, civil society, and the private sector  to help increase the number of Africans with ‘minerals skills’.

“Traditionally, ‘mineral skills’ have been defined quite narrowly – generally as being engineering and geology related. But as we move into the future, the skills required to deal effectively with an increasingly complex world extend far beyond only engineering and geology. This is why adopting a broader and more holistic view of the skills needed to effectively grow and administer the minerals industry in Africa is vital”, said Duffy.

“We need to create a well-managed and efficient minerals industry that can transform finite natural resources and transient wealth into lasting development,” concluded Duffy.

By Samson Haileyesus

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