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Domesticating the Africa Mining Vision: Where Civil Society Stands

The Africa Mining Vision (AMV) is a policy framework established by the African
Union in 2009 to promote equitable, broad-based development through prudent exploitation
and utilization of the continent’s natural wealth.

The ambitious goal of the AMV is “to foster transparent, equitable and optimal
exploitation of Africa’s mineral resources to underpin broad based sustainable
growth and socio-economic development.”

The AMV is labeled ambitious as it calls for the creation of ‘a regime of
responsibility for natural resource extraction in African countries.” This
means it addresses key areas of interest that have long cast a spotlight on the
exploitative nature of conducting business between multi-national companies and
governments where the former are associated with hemorrhaging of the
continent’s resources through tax evasion coupled with illicit financial flows
from the mineral sector and the later mortgaging their countries’ resources in unfair
selfish contracts shrouded in non-disclosure agreements.

This cocktail of issues often leaves the countries’ citizens wallowing in poverty as
the mineral resource wealth does not translate into opportunities and social
economic development.

The AMV is described as a game changer in the continent’s mineral sector, according to
Oxfarm, in their 2017 briefing paper, From
Aspiration to Reality: Unpacking the AMV
, as it “comprehensively addresses
the challenges associated with harnessing Africa’s mineral resources for
sustainable development, while striving to reflect global norms for the
equitable governance of the natural resources sectors.”

Ideally
the AMV addresses six major areas of intervention namely; improving the quality
of geological data which leads to fairer deals and more equitable returns on
mineral sector investments; contract negotiation capacity; resource governance;
management of mineral wealth; addressing infrastructure constraints; and
elevating artisanal and small scale mining by acknowledging its developmental
role thereby harnessing this potential through formalization and integration
into local and regional economic development.

AMV Progress

AU
member states are required to adopt the AMV fully, align national mineral
sector policies with the provisions of the framework and implement it through derivative
policy instruments including the Country Mining Vision, African Mineral
Governance Framework and Compact with the Private Sector – while maintaining an
integrated, strategic vision for national development.

Experts
however say the slow pace of implementation of the AMV since its inception
risks failing its major aspirations. The Brief cites that there is low
awareness of the potential opportunities for the AMV to address grievances in communities
experiencing the negative environmental and social effects of mineral
extraction.

Notably,
civil society, which has been at the forefront of struggles to put Africa’s
mineral sector at the heart of strategies for inclusive, equitable development
is making baby steps towards mobilising to engage with the national
implementation of the AMV in terms of grassroots mobilization and policy
advocacy in Uganda.

In
promoting strategies for inclusive, equitable development civil society has
been urged to popularize the AMV’s goals of: recognizing the contribution of
artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) to local economic development, and
promoting women’s rights and gender justice; advocating for a progressive
fiscal regime to curb the hemorrhaging of the continent’s resources through tax
evasion and avoidance plus illicit financial flows from the mineral sector
thereby promoting transparency in the management of mineral resource revenues
and the accountability of states and corporate actors in their relations with
mining-affected communities and citizens; upholding the principle of free,
prior and informed consent (FPIC) for mining-affected communities; and addressing
the social and environmental impacts of mining.

As
with a number of non-governmental organisations across, ActionAid International
Uganda runs a specific project on Extractives
Governance and works with several stakeholders in the sub sector, particularly artisanal
and small-scale miners (and government) to uphold and promote the AMV.

Chris
Musiime who works with African Centre for Mineral Policy says that there is a lack
of a sense of ownership of the AMV concept by Ugandan NGOs and non-alignment
with oil and gas which they consider a hot topic at the moment.

“Although
the AMV can be perceived as universal in terms of resource management, it
remains hugely biased towards mining. At the time it came about, mining was not
a big deal here and almost all NGOs were concentrating on oil and gas. Thus it
was not an easy fit into the NGO work at the time. If you recall, many NGOs
including ActionAid were mad about EITI but never mentioned AMV yet EITI
principles are generally represented in the AMV,” he said.

He
contends that Civil society needs to familiarise themselves with the AMV first
of all, how it came about, why Uganda signed up, and the particular role set
aside in the AMV for civil society then pick out what applies to Uganda and set
on developing a country specific document for Uganda.

“With
the new Minerals Policy, Petroleum Laws and on-going review of the Mining and Minerals
Act as well as Uganda accepting to join EITI, CSOs have to remain updated with
all these processes if they are to remain relevant. Secondly, they should
follow up with the Government Department responsible for the domestication of
AMV, am not sure if it’s MOFA or MEMD or both. Gain networks there and
understand the challenges they have and see how to help them. AMV domestication
cannot be done by NGOs alone. It has to be a partnership.”

Didas
Muhumuza, the Manager Extractives Governance Project at ActionAid International
Uganda says the project has already embarked on some work around the AMV. He
views that the AMV is a top-bottom high level initiative whose formulation and
development did not include comprehensive stakeholder consultations and engagement.
“It thus requires practical domestication through local involvement and
participation by stakeholders in the derivation of the framework. The only
opportunity available now is to ensure that the derivation of the Country
Mining Vision for Uganda is done through a bottom-up process to enable
realistic consideration of the local stakeholders concerns,” Muhumuza
emphasized.

There
are takeaway points for the civil society to do more about actualizing the AMV
as outlined in the brief by Oxfam.

‘Civil
society should proactively engage in policy advocacy, research and analysis of
the AMV, focus on civic space and social participation, women’s rights and
gender justice and environmental plus social sustainability, in order to elicit
policy reforms by African governments and the Pan-African policy institutions
to address the shortcomings in the framework,” it says.

It
also urges stakeholders (especially Civil Society actors to undertake popular
campaigns to raise awareness of the AMV and its benefits to African citizens
and mining-affected communities, to ensure that the interests of non-state
actors are addressed in the Country Mining Visions.

By Robert Mwesigye

Edited by Flavia Nalubega

Edited by Didas Muhumuza