Ban exportation of raw minerals to enrich Africa

AFRICA: TO jog your memory the late President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, while addressing the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) in 2015 said: “If we remain exporters of raw materials we will never go anywhere while other economies flourish.

SADC exports 10 per cent to Europe while Asian countries export some 27 per cent, mark you industrialization is now a must.” Five years later when telling the Swiss that Ghana would no longer be exporting its cocoa raw, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said, “There can be no future prosperity for the Ghanaian people in the short, medium, or long term if we continue to maintain economic structures that are dependent on the production and export of raw materials.”

Again consider this background that for the last 500 years, the West has mapped Africa as a source of raw materials, disrupted vibrant African value addition, and arrogated itself as the place where industrial revolutions (value addition) happen.

This strategy is clearly traceable from the transatlantic slave trade, continuing through European colonialism, to the current critical raw materials (CRMs) framing necessary for its digital and climate tech dominance.

African countries have realized that continuing to export materials raw is an unsustainable path of dependency. Emphasis is now on value addition, which is the norm in everyday life, rendered informal, marginal, even illegal under colonialism and never revisited, recentered, and formalized after independence.

With this background, opening up free minerals trade across Africa is what can enrich the continent and completely ban exportation of raw materials.

Again if the levies are a must, then the governments should set up small and friendly rates, so as to ease especially minerals processing within the continent.

This is to say that free trade will enable the countries with no mineral processing plants to serve their fellows, hence, promotion and enhancement of, among others, the value addition chain in mining sector. Equally, if Tanzania, for instance, would be having enough plants for gold processing before processing, then free trade will help the country to reach its goals in the continent.

“This is how African governments and their people can benefit from the mining sector,” said the Assistant Commissioner-License Administration, Ministry of Energy and Minerals Development in Uganda, Mr Vincent Kedi.

He aired his views during a-three-day (April 24- 26th) East and Southern Africa Regional Consultative Workshop Towards an Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) Continental Strategy, which was organized by the Interim Secretariat of the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), under sponsorship of the UNDP, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The workshop brought together ASM and media stakeholders from about 20 Southern and Eastern Africa countries to discuss among others, improving market structures for ASM products, access to finance and financial inclusion for ASMs through credits and access to technology, child labor elimination, institutionalization as well as capacity building.

The Assistant Commissioner explained further that free trade will trigger foreigners to invest in Africanrich mineral countries, with modern technologies while imparting the Africans with ‘how-to-use -it’ kind of knowledge.

“It makes no sense when Africa sells raw materials at very minimal prices and import end-products at highest expenses. Our universities produce lots of mineral experts who will have nothing do if exportation persists,” he stressed.

The Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for African Minerals Development Center (AMDC), Mr Theophilus Adoko supported the motion that exportation of raw materials shortens the value addition chain, as majority Africans lack involvement opportunities.

According to him, the AMDC adopted what is called African Minerals Governance Framework; the document used to asses some few African countries, last year, in areas of among others, policies, capital, health and safety standards, human rights, environmental and social issues, including child labor as well as women engagement in mining sector.

Majority of ASMs found are exposed to dangerous in various ways, including lack of capital, contracts, poor working environment but also unregistered, with very minimal women involvement.

Among the assessed countries were Ghana, Morocco, DRC Congo, Zambia and Gabon, which had found with mining-related policies but poor implementation. Atleast Ghana and Morocco do make it. “Coming to human rights, employment wasn’t there at all. Women themselves are not allowed to do some jobs, let alone limited access to land for mining,” he said.

He stressed the ban of raw materials exportation, in a bid to enhance the value addition chain and therefore connect extraction with other sectors, for betterments of all Africans.

African governments should also prioritize transparency and accountability in extraction sector, so as to eradicate corruption and rent seeking behavior. The president of Federation of Small Scale Mining Associations of Zambia (FSSMAZ), Mr Joseph Mwansa also echoed free trade that it will at 100 percent promote value addition in mining sector, among other benefits.

Again, since ASMs face similar challenges, the president called on African mining Federations’ joint efforts to bring in permanent solutions. The common challenges presented during the workshop were limited access to finance resources and markets for ASMs products, lack of skills, modern technologies and safety gears; low women participation as well as unrecognized ASMs, to mention a few.

The FSSMAZ therefore does from time to time partner with other institutions which offer training programs on safe mining practices, environmental conservation, and financial management. It is currently working to find partners who will help enhance the technical skills related to mining techniques, machinery operation, and mineral processing.

As a priority, he added, the federation has established a sub-committee in charge of international relations that looks to promote the adoption of modern technology for efficient mining, processing and value addition by facilitating knowledge exchange and best practices through site visits and job on training and expert mentoring with international and local organizations.

The Federation is also concerned with environmental protection, with the president affirming that: ‘through sitting on different mine related boards, our membership have had access to various trainings and participation.

“It is from these interactions that awareness about sustainable mining practices, environmental conservation, encouraged reforestation and responsible waste management is being championed by working hand in hand with the Environmental Management Agency and the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment,” he said.

He insisted that successful implementation requires collaboration among stakeholders, including government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector. By addressing all those challenges and supporting ASM operators, the stakeholders can promote sustainable development and improve livelihoods in the mining sector.

“Artisanal and SmallScale Mining plays a crucial role in the economies of developing countries, directly and indirectly supporting rural families globally,” he stressed.

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