A global conference in Zambia aimed at the improvement of the miners’ productivity and its cumulative impact on poverty reduction at local and national levels.
By Dr. Patrick I. Gomes
The author is Secretary General of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States comprising 79 member countries – 48 from sub-Saharan Africa, 16 in the Caribbean and 15 in the Pacific. ACP countries are endowed with enormous mineral resources. yet are characterised by chronic poverty, low human development and overall under-development; causing the categorisation of 39 ACP Member States as Least Developed Countries. – The Editor
BRUSSELS (ACP-IDN) – ASM18, the International Conference on Artisanal and Small-scale Mining and Quarrying from September 11-13, 2018 in Livingstone, Zambia, is an initiative of the ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme, organised together with the European Union, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Zambia.
The World Bank, African Union, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development, and German Cooperation supported the Conference.
Following are extensive excerpts from ACP Secretary General Dr. Gomes’ remarks at the official opening ceremony of ASM 18 on September 11:
Bringing together such a diverse group of 500 global stakeholders to discuss the future of the artisanal and small-scale mining sector is not an easy task. I am therefore extremely proud of the excellent work done by the Embassy of Zambia in Brussels, the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development in Zambia alongside the other ministries involved in the logistical organization of this conference with the ACP Secretariat and its programme partners – the European Commission and UNDP.
Most invaluable has been the miners themselves who have enthusiastically embraced the potential of the programme at national and local levels and are driving it forward. Proud as we are of so much already done we must make sure to deliver an outcome for sustained action.
One of the greatest paradoxes of our time is epitomised in the ACP region where there is acute suffering amidst abundant wealth that goes out of the country. This is particularly so in the minerals sector, where ACP countries are endowed with enormous mineral resources, yet are characterised by chronic poverty, low human development and overall under-development; causing the categorisation of 39 ACP Member States as Least Developed Countries.
Nearly two-thirds of the 79 ACP States are either mining countries, or have mining potential, which if exploited rationally and in a just manner, could contribute to inclusive and sustainable development of millions across the tri-continental space of ACP.
It is against this backdrop that a Framework of Action (FWA) on the Development of the Mineral Resources Sector was endorsed by the ACP Group of States in October 2011 by the first Meeting of ACP Ministers responsible for Mining and Minerals.
The implementation of this Framework of Action has culminated in the successes and good practices you will encounter during this global conference.
Our flagship programme within this Framework, the ACP-EU Development Minerals programme, has demonstrated the importance of local minerals and materials such as sand, salt, marble and gravel in contributing to inclusive and sustainable domestic development in many ACP countries.
The Development Minerals sector, if managed well, can spur economic transformation, financial inclusion, job creation, and human development that respects the objectives of sustainable development. This places minerals development at the heart of structural transformation of our economies as the path to poverty eradication – SDG 1 – to end poverty in all its forms everywhere.
Reflecting on the year 2015, I recall it as a very significant year for the ACP Group of States as we then celebrated our 40th anniversary – birthday party – for decades of existence and of ACP-EU development cooperation.
Negotiations at that time resulted in the agreement for €31.5 billion of development assistance for 2014-2020 under the 11th cycle of the European Development Fund (EDF). From some of those resources rapid strides have been made to improve the conditions of small-scale mining and minerals development.
The success of the flagship ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme has provided the incentive for developing an even more ambitious programme on Mining for the ACP regions in this the third year of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Efforts to fulfil the SDGs have benefited from contributions by the ACP Group of States within their framework of Promoting partnerships for sustainable development in ACP regions and countries in the Post-2015 Development Era.
In this regard, African, Caribbean and Pacific countries attribute great prominence to SDG 9 as it addresses the priorities established by governments and institutions to Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
It follows logically that the ACP Group of States evidently places great emphasis on Regional Integration aiming to ensure strong infrastructure and deepen connectivity across all our Member States. In this regard, here in Africa, the ACP again conveys support for continental integration and in particular for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). It has the scope to strengthen freedom of movement not only of goods, but people, from Cape Town to the Mediterranean Coast.
In turning to the mining sector, it is commendable to note the work of rationalization undertaken by the African Center for Mining Development (ACMD). And also to align local content to the African Mining Vision (VMA) appears essential, knowing that the multiple efforts of the various governments and multilateral development agencies have not so far made it possible to end the illegal migratory process, and to retain the populations, not by force but by an offer of decent jobs and attractive prospects to fulfil deep aspirations of dignified and sustainable livelihoods.
The Caribbean and Pacific countries have in turn expressed their willingness to join the VMA, it is of paramount importance to pay more attention and give the means to the ACP Mineral Regional Specialized Organizations.
Indeed, it is my hope that ASM18 will serve as a springboard to catalyse deep and lasting changes in the minerals sectors of the ACP regions. This will only happen if the right policies and legal frameworks are put in place to enhance the governance of the sector, while at the same time ensuring that all the requisite extension services are made available to artisanal and small scale miners. The end result will be the improvement of the miners’ productivity and their cumulative impact on poverty reduction at local and national levels.
All of us present here at ASM18 have together thousands of years of experience in the extractives sector. Let us harness all our potential and capitalize on this fantastic opportunity by participating energetically, sharing openly, listening attentively, and most importantly, applying our learning optimally in our home countries.
Let ASM18 be an opportunity to articulate the collective vision for the future! [IDN-InDepthNews – 19 September 2018]
Photo: Development minerals in Zambia. Credit: developmentminerals.org
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