AU Minerals Development Centre in The Offing

The African Union Commission (AUC) and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) are to establish an AfricanMineral Development Centre, to work towards harnessing the natural resources potential to contribute to Africa’s industrialization.

According to the African Mineral Development Centre business plan drafted between the two commissions and the African Development Bank, which was finalized in September 2012, the centre will aim at creating equitable, transparent and optimal exploitation of Africa’s mineral resources.

Plans towards the establishment of the centre were advanced at the 6th Annual Meetings for the African Union Conference of Ministers of Economy and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Economic Development currently happening in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Adballa Hamdok, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa said that the 2013 theme of the meetings, “industrialization for an emerging Africa”, fits right into these plans because of the natural resources’ potential to contribute to the transformation of Africa.

The idea of the mineral development centre was first hatched at the 8th African Development Forum (ADF III), in Addis Ababa in October 2012. At the forum, a resolution was reached that African governments should implement frameworks that relate to natural resources management, including the “African Mining Vision”.

The vision aims at increased capacity to manage natural resources, including better negotiation for contracts between governments and multi-national mineral development companies.

In Uganda, there are currently over 600 mining concession holders, many with exploration licenses for different minerals around the country. Mining licenses are issued on a first-come-first-serve basis, under the Mining Act (2003). As a result, most licenses are issued but the development of the mining areas take years lying idle.

In an earlier interview with the media Peter Lokeris, the State Minister for Mineral Development, noted that the licensing regime will have to be revised, to issue licenses or contracts based on the exploration companies’ capacity to actually carry out these activities.

Uganda has been looking towards formalizing its mining industry, currently largely artisanal, to attract bigger investors in the sector. The Department of Geological Survey and Mines did Geological Mapping, Geochemical Surveys and Mineral Resources Assessment between 2008 and 2011, and the studies discovered 20 different types of minerals that could be commercially viable.  The establishment of the African Minerals Development Centre could help such countries as Uganda towards the development and full exploitation of their mineral potential.

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