High-Level Conference EU-Africa Partnership on Raw Materials "Translating Mineral Resource Wealth into Real Development for Africa"
The High-Level Conference EU-Africa Partnership on Raw Materials "Translating Mineral Resource Wealth into Real Development for Africa" on 26 January 2012 gathered ca. 250 participants from governments, civil society and industry including 22 African countries: Ethiopia, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Burundi, Guinea, Tunisia, Gabon, DRC, South Africa, Tanzania, Mauritania, Djibouti, Chad, Liberia, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Togo, Malawi and Uganda.
The conference provided an opportunity to exchange views on how to implement raw materials aspects of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy Action Plan 2011-13 in line with its vision:
"We should work toward a coherent vision on development, mining and raw materials, to support African capacity at the appropriate national, sub-regional or continental level and within the available cooperation instruments".
In his keynote speech Antonio TAJANI, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Industry and Entrepreneurship said "As this is the first conference on development and mining to take place under the auspices of the EU's Raw Materials Initiative launched in 2008, this is an excellent opportunity for us to share our experiences and views on how mineral wealth can foster broad-based growth, especially in Africa where the availability of resources has not always led to inclusive growth for Africa's people. It is my view that resource wealth can and should act as an engine for inclusive growth and sustainable development, in turn creating 'win-win' situations where both developed and developing countries benefit from the sustainable supply of raw materials."
Conference discussions were centred around three main themes of the Joint Africa-EU strategy action plan 2011-13: good governance, investment & infrastructure and geological knowledge & skills. On the day before the conference, participants gathered in three working groups, which delivered recommendations for progress in each area. These recommendations served as input to panel discussions on 26 January 2012 as moderators invited the speakers to express their views on the subjects raised in the recommendations.
The conference recognised the potential for the contribution of mineral resource wealth to development and underlined the importance of transparency in improving governance - both with regards of payments and contracts strengthening administrative capacity of governments and parliaments in contract negotiations are crucial elements to improve governance. This process must necessarily involve the civil society and private sector, who can contribute to improving governance.
On investment and infrastructure it was underlined that Europe can support Africa in improving the investment potential of mining development corridors and enhance the policy and regulatory framework on issues such as environmental impacts of mining. Since Europe also has a strong experience in corporate social responsibility and a good area of co-operation could include transferring of such approaches to state mining companies. SMEs and small scale mining companies could be used as avenues for increasing the local content and diversify mining supply chains.
In this regard, Sinknesh EJIGU, Minister of Mines, Ethiopia said "The major challenges confronting our continent in developing the mineral industry are lack of significant geoscience information in large part of our continent, lack of capacity in negotiating, administering and monitoring the mining contracts, low level of upstream and downstream value addition and poor economic linkages between the mining sector development and other sustainable economic sectors, lack of investment due to mainly the capital intensive nature of the mineral industry, lack of capacity in assisting and managing artisanal and small scale mining, environmental degradation and negative impacts on the local communities and others. These challenges facing Africa especially in the extractive industry will only be solved through our coordinated efforts in order to bring development of the sector and meaningful contribution in stimulating and diversifying other sustainable economic sectors. Therefore there is a strong need to share experience, information, identification and dissemination of best practices and even expertise among ourselves. We believe that African countries can't alone overcome these challenges confronting the mining sector. Our development partners like EU have also important role to play in this respect'.
On geological knowledge and skills it was recognised that the EU and AU should facilitate the exploration of mineral resources potential in Africa by fostering the co-operation between the European and African geological surveys and improving the capacity of the Organisation of African Geological Surveys (OAGS). The importance of continuous training in this area and increasing own capacity of our African partners in providing this training were particularly highlighted.
The results of the conference will contribute to the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy Action Plan 2011-2013.
The speeches delivered on 26 January 2012 by Antonio TAJANI, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Industry and Entrepreneurship and Sinknesh EJIGU, Minister of Mines, Ethiopia have been recorded and can be viewed as Europe by Sattelite.
A full conference report will be available on the conference website at the end of February
For more information please contact:
Malwina Nowakowska, Policy Officer, Metals, Minerals and Raw Materials, European Commission, email@example.com, tel. +32 2 29 678 75.