Sixty civil society representatives have gathered today in Nairobi, Kenya, for the first Africa Mining Vision (AMV) Civil Society Forum. The Africa Mining Vision adopted by African Heads of State and Government in 2009 has the long-term goal of attaining
transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development.
From across the continent, the group meets to critically examine progress on the implementation of the AMV, agree on strategies for AMV implementation by civil society, establish a working group to lead AMV-civil society engagement and foster an open, mutually beneficial and constructive relationship between Pan-African institutions and civil society.
On behalf of civil society, Dr Claude Kabemba (Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa – Southern Africa Resource Watch) gave opening remarks explaining that
civil society is everything between the family and the state […] we are the protectors of society.
He asked two questions, “How come we are blessed with abundant resources, but we can’t see the benefits?” and “Why have other countries and continents that have spearheaded economic transformation through natural resources still benefited even after depletion?”.
Kabemba explained that the AMV is a response to three fundamental anomalies in the continent’s experience of extractives:
1) export of raw resources without value addition, 2) illicit financial flows, and 3) the lamentation and cry of African people who remain trapped in poverty despite abundant resources.
There is often a gap between policy in implementation of the continent’s “grand ideas” so Kabemba called on the civil society to work towards realisation, while highlighting the importance of the AMV as it is Africa’s own, home-grown initiative.
Civil society was given four main tasks towards AMV realisation by Kabemba – to promote the AMV as Africa’s mineral strategic governance framework, to build a constituency for the AMV at the national, continental and international levels, to campaign for the integration of the extractive industries into the broader economy, and to monitor and evaluate AMV implementation at all levels.
To help African Union member states implement the AMV, the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC) was established and operational from 2014. The AMDC’s Paul Msoma shared what they have learned since 2014. In particular,
broad transparency laws are very important […] but not enough without good oversight institutions and enforcement mechanisms.
Msoma added the importance of being flexible to diverse country contexts and of considering institutional arrangements as well as the necessity of political buy-in and support for institutions and policies. To avoid the resource curse, countries must have
sound economic planning and implementation, well developed social policies and strong state institutions especially those managing and overseeing mineral revenues.
At present, 24 countries have taken steps to realise the AMV. Malawi is one of the countries involved. Earlier in the year, with AMDC support, the Government of Malawi launched a contract negotiation capacity building program and an AMV Communications Workshop was held in Lilongwe to raise awareness on the vision. More recently, in August, the Government of Malawi with several representatives from parliament and civil society participated in initial discussions on the Country Mining Vision process in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the AMDC.
Malawian civil society through the Natural Resources Justice Network and Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Malawi is also raising awareness on the AMV (see, for example, PWYP Malawi’s AMV Gap Analysis) to “make minerals meaningful for Malawi”. Malawi is represented at the first AMV Civil Society Forum by Oxfam Malawi and Citizens for Justice.