The African Development Bank, under the leadership of its African Natural Resources Center (ANRC), hosted a series of events at Mining Indaba 2016 in a concerted campaign to support African Governments in their efforts to attract sustainable and environmentally friendly investment. One of the world’s largest mining conferences in the world, Mining Indaba took place from February 8-11 in Cape Town, South Africa.
The AfDB delegation included representatives from the ANRC, the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), the Africa50 Infrastructure Fund, as well as the Bank’s Development Research, Regional Integration and Trade, and Private Sector Departments.
Activities included a lively panel discussion on the role of regional governments in attracting investment, which was chaired by Sheila Khama, ANRC’s Director. Panelists were Addi Azza, Advisor to the Minister of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment of the Kingdom of Morocco; Sujoy Bose, Director and Global Head of Infrastructure and Natural Resources at the International Finance Corporation; and Cheickna Seydi Ahamadi Diawara, Malian Minister of Mines. The debate prompted comments and questions from attending African Ministers, Chief Executive Officers of leading mining companies, African Union Commissioners, representatives from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Africa Mining Vision, as well as international development partners.
The first day saw more than 170 delegates gather for a presentation on ANRC’s strategy, including Diawara; Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Mining, Dan Kazungu; Zimbabwe’s Permanent Secretary of Mines and Mining Development, Francis P. Gudyanga; and the Director of Mines and Geology, Ministry of Mines, Senegal, Ousmane Cissé. Also in attendance were the Executive Head of Anglo American South Africa, Andile Sangqu; Chief Commercial Officer of Rio Tinto’s Simandou project, Elias Scafidas, as well as representatives from the governments of Norway and Australia. Those present from the Bank included the Director of Regional Integration and Trade, Moono Mupotola; the Director of ALSF, Stephen Karangizi; and Lead Research Economist John Anyanwu.
Sheila Khama highlighted the objective of the ANRC’s strategy, saying it sought to catalyze growth and development in Africa through effective management of the continent’s natural resources. “While the many challenges facing countries in managing their natural resource wealth are well known, this is not matched with a capacity to respond to these challenges. This is where we come in. We are able to provide the tools to bridge the gaps,” Khama underscored.
Karangizi emphasized the role of the ALSF in building capacity of governments during negotiations with private and international partners and investors. In responding to a question on whether there was demand from countries for enhancing capacity to negotiate in the mining sector, he said, “Yes, there is certainly a lot of demand from countries for enhancing capacity to negotiate, but the response has to be innovative with a tailor-made approach suited for each country.”
During the conference, ANRC presented a draft Local Content Policy Roadmap, a toolkit to assist countries in formulating effective local content policies. The session was attended by about 160 participants, who came to hear invited speaker Sir Paul Collier, Chair of the Blavatnik School of Governance at Oxford University and author of The Bottom Billion. In his opening remarks, Collier said, “Unlike oil rigs, mining operations are intertwined with the economies of the countries and communities in which they operate. This presents countries with an enormous opportunity for national enterprises to capitalize on the procurement boom of mineral development from the project stage and throughout the life cycle.”
Towards the end of the conference, the ANRC, International Council on Mining and Metals, and other partners jointly hosted a panel discussion on supporting resilient communities as part of the “Indaba Sustainability Day”. Opening the session, His Majesty Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi, King of the Bafokeng Nation, located in the platinum-producing region of South Africa, addressed delegates. “By definition, mines are not sustainable,” he said. “The question is then, how should communities respond and ensure long-lasting benefits from mining?”
Much of the discussions throughout the conference were focused on the current downturn in the commodities market affecting the mining sector across Africa. The AfDB, through the ANRC and the ALSF, is providing assistance to countries in creating sustainable green growth through effective natural resources management, so that the following upward cycle will not be a missed opportunity.