African Union strives to realize African mining vision
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, December 13, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The African Union's (AU's) Department of Trade and Industry is working to promote broad–based and integrated growth and economic development for extracting better benefits from Africa's mineral resources. In this respect, the Second AU Conference of Ministers Responsible for Mineral Resources Development under the theme “Building sustainable future for Africa's extractive industry, from vision to action” is being held from 12 to 16 October at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It started today, with a senior officials meeting. They will meet for three days to prepare and adopt documents to be submitted to a ministerial conference, to be held from 15-16 December at the same venue.
Welcoming addresses were given by the AU Acting Director of Trade and Industry Mr. Jean Noel Francois, the Director General of Geological Survey of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Ministry of Mines Mr. Masresha G/Selassie and Director of Regional Integration Infrastructure and Trade Division of UNECA Mr. Steven Karingi. The conference is being jointly organized by the African Union Commission and the Trade Division of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
The objective of the conference is to bring together African Minsters responsible for mineral resources development, African experts in mining and natural resources development to agree on the implementation of an African mining vision. The discussions at the conference will focus on a draft action plan for the African Mining Vision that will serve as a framework for member states for the efficient utilization and management of Africa's mineral resources.
The discussions are also expected to increase commitment by African Chambers of Mines and Industry, African private sector, academia, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and other relevant development partners to enhance understanding of the African Mining Vision and its implication for African mineral development. In addition, the expected outcomes include: the adaption of framework report on Africa's mineral regimes and agreement on the way forward.
During the opening ceremony of the conference at the AU today, it was mentioned that Africa has abundant mineral endowment and it harbours some of the world's largest mineral deposits. However, Africa consumes very little of its own mineral resources and exports most of it as raw materials with little no local value addition and beneficiation. Speakers at the conference emphasised that the key challenges for the continent in developing the mineral industry are achieving socio- economic development, lack of investment, low level of value added facilities, lack of integration of the mining sector and lack of technology and capacity amongst others.
The Acting Director of Trade and Industry at the African Union Commission Mr. Jean Noel Francois recalled that the African Mining Vision was welcomed by the Assembly of the African Union Heads of States and Government during the Summit of February 2009.The assembly called for the development of an Action Plan that will guide and direct the achievement of the African Mining Vision. He called on the continent to “get rid of Afro-pessimism”, adding that “our future is in our hands and we have an obligation towards history.”
Director, Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade Division of UNECA Mr. Karingi stated that, “AUC have provided us with not just direction but leadership on this journey, and they continue to give us hope and belief that we will now witness the implementation phase of the Vision”.
Director General of the Geological Survey of Ethiopian Government, Mr. Masresha G/Selassie said that, achieving the African Mining Vision means overcoming many challenges and it is critical to work as per the action plan. “As we share the Vision, we need also to work together for the implementation of the Action Plan. He emphasised that there is a need to share experiences, information and expertise within the continent.