DR Donald Kaberuka says Zambia and other African governments must fix economic policies that are leading to massive job losses in the mines.
And Dr Kaberuka, the immediate past president of the African Development Bank, says copper prices at $5,000 per tonne is not a disaster that can lead to huge production cuts being announced by the mining companies.
He told investors on Monday during a Financial Times Africa summit that failure to come up with policies that can secure jobs for the majority of citizens was the biggest problem that African countries were facing.
Thousands of jobs are being lost in Zambia’s mining sector owing to a cocktail of reasons – reduced power supply resulting from Zesco’s dwindling generation capacity; the new tax regime which the mines want revisited and the falling international copper prices.
But Dr Kaberuka said copper prices should not be used as reason for the downsizing of major mining operations in Zambia and other African countries and instead urged a quick review of the policies leading to job losses.
“For the last 10 years, there has been a signal of bad policies not only in Zambia but many other countries. These have to be fixed, they (governments) must avoid knee jerk policies,” he advised. “The long term solution for Africa’s problems should be about saving jobs. Right now the discussion shouldn’t be about copper prices; they should be about jobs because copper prices at $5,000 per tonne is not a disaster.”
Dr Kaberuka also cautioned against abrupt changes in policies each time there was a change of government.
“There should be long-term relationship between governments and mining companies in terms of policies. Changes should not be abrupt whenever there is a change of government,” said Dr Kaberuka