Session One: Africa Mining Vision: Context and Key Features

The first speaker in this session was Yao Graham of TWN-Africa. His presentation was on the “Context of the AMV” (Powerpoint attached). It analysed the political economy of mining in Africa as a dimension of the continent’s raw material commodity export dependence and what this has meant for the structure of Africa’s economies, nature of integration into the world economy and the effects of the dependence. This was offered as the fundamental reality that the AMV seeks to address.

The more immediate factors that determined the adoption of the AMV were the results of the World Bank driven mining sector liberalisation policies of the past two or so decades which primarily aimed at attracting foreign investors within a policy logic that saw tax revenues as the primary economic benefit from mining. This policy was successful in attracting foreign investment but its development benefits were disappointing. The mining boom of the past decade vastly increased corporate profits with only marginal improvements in what accrued to governments. Long before this more recent official disappointment with these policy outcomes there had been growing complaints from different sections of society about the negative impacts of the mining boom – destruction of livelihoods, human rights abuses and environmental degradation. The convergence and pressure of these two streams of discontent formed the immediate context for the adoption of the AMV. 

The presentation also looked at the contemporary context for the implementation of the AMV. The factors discussed include the nature of the global market and demand and how these will affect Africa’s room for manoeuvre. The elements of the global market context include:

  • the new importance of China and other powers of the South as consumers and investors,
  • the continuing power of the North Atlantic countries and companies,
  • the obstacles posed by elements of the international trade and investment regime and rules; and
  • the fact that other areas of the South as well as some Northern countries such as Australia are also seeking to correct the inequities in mineral benefit that favour the companies.

The presentation offered a cautionary analysis about the stop-start reform efforts of African countries over the past few years and what that says about the political will of governments. It drew attention to the coincidence of the AMV’s goals with the demands of African society which however is not sufficiently aware of or organised around the AMV.

The second presentation on the “Key features of the Africa Mining Vision, its Action Plan and Processes” was made by Oliver Maponga of the UNECA.  (Powerpoint attached) The presentation had four main parts: the role and potential of Minerals and Africa’s Development; the main tenets of the AMV; the elements of the AMV Action Plan of 2011 and the role of the African Mineral Development Centre (AMDC), the continental body charged with leading the implementation process.

Oliver set out Africa’s mineral endowment and the positive role it could play in the development of the continent. He also analysed the implications of the current global context of high demand for and price of minerals for Africa’s minerals and development policies. His discussion of the AMV highlighted how it seeks to break with the pattern of exploitation of minerals, established since colonial times, and its aim of Africa utilising its minerals as a central element of an industrialisation process that powers structural transformation. The presentation on the AMV Action Plan, which is organised in programme clusters, explained how the vision of the AMV has been reduced into an implementation agenda. The clusters range from a concern with developing structural transformation linkages around the mineral sector through programme clusters on ASM, the optimisation of revenue, improved governance to environmental and social issues. The Action Plan sets out tasks and responsibilities for national governments, regional economic communities, civil society and the private sector and international development agencies and bilateral aid donors, all of which it sees as key actors in the realisation of the AMV. Oliver explained that the programme clusters of the AMV Action Plan have been turned into work streams for the AMDC.

The AMDC, which is hosted by the UNECA, was officially launched in December 2013. Its role includes:

  • collaborating with member States and RECs to facilitate the transformative role of the minerals sector in line with the AMV aspirations;
  • coordinating and tracking AMV implementation at regional and national level;
  • undertaking and coordinating research to support AMV implementation;
  • networking, linking and pooling knowledge and expertise from global sources to support AMV implementation and tracking; and
  • undertaking advocacy and capacity development around the Vision.

The presentation also discussed the factors required for the success of the AMV. These include among others, a conducive policy space, the political will of governments, state capacity and the development of the requisite alliances for change. The concluding parts of the presentation offered a view about how the AMV could be operationalized at national levels through multi-stakeholder development of country mining visions (CMVs).