Africa Mining Vision (AMV) what it means to Zambia
Author: Kayombo Musumali.
The 3rd ordinary session of the African union (AU) conference of ministers responsible for mineral resources development, took place in Maputo Mozambique from the 16th – 17th of December 2013. It was preceded by a separate meeting of mining experts that took place from the 13th – 15th of December 2013,Zambia was well represented at these sittings by the minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Hon. Christopher Yaluma MP alongside a capable team of Zambian mining experts. The theme of the conference was “Leveraging the African Mining Vision for Africa’s Renaissance towards broader ownership”, a befitting theme that has much meaning to Zambia.
The African Mining Vision (AMV) is a roadmap that was hatched at the first sitting of this conference held in 2009. Its overall objective was to ensure that the revenues and profits generated from extractive industry in AU member states trickle down to the ordinary citizens,adding measurable value to the socio-economic well being of their respective economies. This bold African led initiative was aimed at mineral rich member states and was adopted in a timely manner to augment the achievements of similar, largely international initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) amongst others that have been beneficial to Zambia and other AU member states alike.
The obvious question is “what does this vision actually mean to Zambia?” For a start, Zambia is the continent’s largest producer of copper and ranked 5th globally. It has an abundance of other minerals besides copper such as Gold, Zinc, Lead, Manganese, Cobalt, Uranium and iron to mention a few, this includes gemstones, oil and natural gas that are spread right across the country. This means the mining investment potential in Zambia is huge and as such the expectation of the AMV should be the creation of a policy framework that will allow Zambia to leverage its resource potential to the benefit of all citizens in line with the nation’s developmental agenda adding value to the local context.
However, the vision in its entirety was conceived to view the mineral resources sector across the continent from a holistic perspective. Each member state including Zambia has its own home-grown policies, procedures and regulations governing the exploitation of mineral resources that are suited to the social, economic and political climate prevailing within the country. So an inclusive mining vision will need to assume a stance that is able to accommodate these disparities and is able to reconcile these differences.
A constructive approach from member states such as Zambia to align with this vision would be the formation of an individual country mining vision i.e. Zambia mining vision. Part of this vision would be value addition in addition to industrialisation and beneficiation in the form of training and knowledge creation. This will empower citizens in skills related to the mining industry such as mineral economics, trade, law, accounting, marketing and the like introducing Zambians to the complex environment governing mineral resources. This human resource pooled from different member states will drive the objectives set out by the AMV leading to its eventual realisation.
Under the AMV’s mandate, infrastructural development is cardinal. Extractive industries in general require infrastructure in order to function efficiently in the form of roads, rail networks, power, water, telecommunications and more. The current government has a very strong infrastructural development focus with the implementation of ambitious projects such as the link Zambia 8000 that has opened up previously inaccessible areas of Zambia to development through an elaborate road network, the overhauling and refinancing of Zambia Railways (ZR) including Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA) providing a nationwide rail network and an increase in Zambia’s power generation capacity with Itezhi-tezhi dam, Lunzhua power station and Maamba collieries thermal power plants, expected to come online in 2014 to mention a few. Mining is a capital intensive business, meaning initiatives such as these provide a cushion to would be investors making Zambia an attractive investment destination.The initiatives are part of the current government’s legacy, meaning they are sustainable and carry a lot of momentum going into the future.
In addition, a infrastructural development should be able to incorporate an elaborate environmental regulatory framework that is championed by all environmental regulators in the country. Mining activityby nature infringes on the natural balance of the adjacent environment in all its areas of application leading to a conflict of interestand therefore,partnerships with institutions such as the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) will be instrumental to ensuring its success.
Most companies operating in the extractives industry in Zambia are largely multinational corporations. Befittingly some of these companies have a deliberate policy as part of their company charter to execute best practices in all their regions of operation. This however is not a true reflection of the industry in general. A representative country mining vision that reflects the aspirations of the AMV is one that benchmarks global best practices requiring all companies local and foreign alike to match the status quo. This mining vision will also need to eliminate the bureaucracy surrounding the acquisition of prospecting, exploration and mining rights thereby fast tracking the process of investment in the sector.
The AMV through the just recently conceived Africa Minerals Development Centre (AMDC) encourages African governments, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders to take more ownership of the extractive industry across the continent. The aim of this centre is to provide operational support to the AMV and ensure that Africa’s interests and concerns regarding the extractive industry are properly articulated and internalised to the benefit of all member states. This centre provides a forum for mineral rich nations like Zambia and others that have substantial experience in the industry tocome together, share ideas and deliberate on any policy formulation initiatives that have benefited them individually and if they can be implemented in the larger context of the AMV.
Zambia possesses qualities that will enable it to implement a successful national mining vision, amongst others, political stability, a long history of mining activity and a generally investor friendly climate. This means that the country is well placed to be a shining example in achieving the objectives set out by the AMV for other member states to emulate. A Zambia model could be used as a benchmark to assist other member states in aligningthemselves to this vision.
In conclusion it is clear that a well thought out national mining vision aligned to the objectives sought by the AMV is of substantial significance to a mining dependent economy such as Zambia. A flourishing extractive industry across the continent built on wealth creation will stimulate other economic players benefitting all stakeholders by reducing poverty and creating opportunities not only for this generation but posterity.