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31.10.2008 Business & Finance

Conference on mining next week

By The Statesman

In an effort to explore policy options that go beyond the familiar debate about the need to attract foreign direct investment into Africa's mining sector, Third World Network-Africa, in collaboration with the Review of African Political Economy, is going to host a regional conference on mining in Accra, from November 5 -7, 2008.

The theme of the three-day confab is "Beyond foreign direct investment in Africa"s mining sector.'

This was announced at a media briefing in Accra yesterday by Dr. Yao Graham, Coordinator, Third World Network-Africa.

He said for the past 20 years African governments had been keenly interested in foreign direct investment - a phenomenon he did not condemn, but said the people must derive optimum benefits from mining activities taking place on their own soils.

Dr. Graham emphasised the need for mining to move away from mere provision of raw materials to the addition of value to minerals.

'TWN thinks it is about time to meet and discuss the past and see what went wrong and make certain provisions for the way forward', he underscored.

Next week's meeting will bring together activists, researchers, academics, members of parliament, experts from the UN system and government officials working in the mining sector from across Africa - Ghana,  Zambia, South Africa, Mali, Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, among others - as well as Canada, the UK and Lebanon.

The general policy framework, policy making and impact of current mining operations on Africa's development are some of the issues to be discussed.

The meeting, taking place at a time of the commodities' boom and also on the heels of the just-ended African Union Ministerial Conference on Mining held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will offer participants the chance to present their views on the current affairs in the mining industry in Africa.

offer participants the chance to present their views on the current affairs in the mining industry in Africa.

Topics to be discussed include, 'Overview of foreign direct investment: Resistance and policy alternatives for Africa's mining sector', 'Mining sector policy making and the donor community in Africa: Lessons and future options for Africa', 'Development impact and challenges in mining areas of Africa' and 'Towards the effective integration of the mining sector in development.'

A platform to look at institutional arrangements for the delivery of mining policies in Africa will also be provided by the up-coming meeting. In this regard, state actors like the Mineral Commission of Ghana and the Internal Revenue Service, according to Dr. Yao Graham, will also provide some insight into effective and efficient mineral resource mobilization.

'Small-scale artisan mining will also feature in the discussions as a central issue on the proposals for alternatives to the future role of foreign direct investment in the mining sector', he disclosed.

Of great interest in all these is the look at emerging reforms in Africa's mining sector.

This will be examined through the examples of recent experiences of the South African Development Commission, Zambia's reforms and the Economic Commission of Africa's 2050 Africa Mining Vision document.

Expected outcomes at the end of the confab are alternative policies and approaches of maximizing contribution of mining towards integrated development, enhancement of Pan-African dialogue with regards to mineral-led growth and sustainable development and the sharing of country and region specific experiences and policy dialogue to inform reform in the continent's mining sector.

Lindlyn Tamufor, Programme Officer - Environment Unit, Third World Network-Africa, gave a brief report on the African Union Ministerial Conference on Mining held in Addis Ababa. She posited that the African Ministers for Mines were agreed that there was the need for reforms in the mining industry.