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Valorising West Africa’s Minerals and Resources through Regional Cooperation

12 October 2015

The African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Minerals Development Center (AMDC) attended the first Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Mining and Petroleum Forum and Exhibition (ECOMOF) from 6-8 October 2015 under the theme: “Valorising West Africas’s Minerals and Resources through Regional Cooperation”. The objective of the forum is to generate ideas as well as knowledge sharing on how West African countries, endowed with significant mineral resources, can leverage them for sustainable economic development.

The Forum aimed at developing efficient partnerships among all the stakeholders to maximize the potential benefits of the West African countries extractive resources through regional cooperation and partner ECOWAS and host governments to sustain the initiative. It is intended to take place every two (2) years on rotational basis within Member States.

In his opening remarks, the Honorable Minister for Petroleum of Ghana, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah pointed out that the region is blessed with all kind of resources i.e. oil and gas, gold, diamonds, bauxite, manganese, iron ore, limestone, coal, uranium, etc. but recognized that despite undisputed potential there remains the challenge of taking the opportunities to optimally utilize this resource potential. “It is my fervent wish that this meeting will provide foundation blocks that will enable the sub-region construct the needed transformation agenda to deliver national and regional economic development, create employment, and above all, improve the standard of living of the average ECOWAS citizen through value added utilization of our collective resources”, he said. He urged ECOWAS to play a proactive role in ensuring a collaborative delimitation of borders in order to minimize the potential for estate resource related conflicts.

The Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, H.E. Fatima Haram Acyl underscored the fact that the Commission is conscious of the huge contribution that mineral resources through industrialization and regional cooperation can bring towards a transformed Africa, full of hope, as defined by the aspirations of the African people in Agenda 2063. “Africans are determined to strengthen their regional integration and cooperation, trade amongst themselves and with the rest of the world, but this time around in value added and manufactured commodities as opposed to raw commodities.  This indeed means Africa is committed to accelerate its industrialization to boost its intra-African trade from the current 12% to at least 22% by 2025. This means creation and development of regional value chains that are linked to the global value chains”, she said. The Commissioner also noted that Africa is not only endowed with natural resources, but also with skilled human resources and indicated that this offers opportunity for Multinational Companies investing in Africa to reduce their operating and production costs by employing more African skilled labor as opposed to expatriates. Commissioner Acyl, finally, informed the forum that the African Union and its partners are working tirelessly to ensure that Member States put in place legal, regulatory, fiscal and governance regimes for Mineral and Extractives industries that will ensure that both the governments and the private sector optimally, benefit from the resources.

In his introductory statement, the President of ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo reminded the forum that the first ECOMOF 2015 coincides with the 40th Anniversary Celebration of Economic Community of West African States. He stressed that West Africa possesses vast potential in terms of natural resources which when properly harnessed can enhance the well-being of its people. “I have no doubt that we are all following the future prospects of the oil sector in the region, as well as the actions of the Community and its Member States to promote the diversification from traditionally exploited minerals in the mining sector”, he mentioned. The President of ECOWAS Commission also highlighted the fact that a harmonized regulatory environment is required to facilitate the realization of the optimal benefits from the development efforts of the geo-extractive sector. In this regard, according to the President, ECOWAS intends in the medium term, to formulate a trans-boundary Geo-extractive Development Framework to assist the Community. “ECOMOF in general and ECOMOF 2015 in particular, should be reflecting over our next –steps going forward after 40 years as a Regional Economic Community”, he concluded.

On behalf of the President of Republic of Ghana, H.E. John Dramani Mahama, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Honorable Nii Osah Mills, commended the organizers of the forum for their choice of the theme as, he said, it raised the question of how sovereign nations in West Africa can reconcile their local content policies in the mining and petroleum sectors and thereby pursue meaningful regional cooperation. He indicated that Ghana is working very closely with the African Minerals Development Center (AMDC) to indigenize the Africa Mining Vision (AMV) through a Country Mining Vision (CMV). “It is my expectation that the plethora of policies and laws governing the oil and gas sector worldwide would afford countries in the sub-region, which are favorably endowed, the opportunity to learn from history in order to leapfrog in the area of sustainable management of our petroleum resources”, he emphasized. The Minister also pointed out that countries dependent on minerals and hydrocarbons in the ECOWAS sub-region cannot leverage their mineral and petroleum potential to maximize their contribution to sustainable development without adopting the key elements of good governance, including transparency, stakeholder involvement and accountability among other. Finally, he urged the forum to come up with fruitful deliberations and declared the forum open.

In the margins of the forum, on 8 October 2015, the AUC and the AMDC hosted a panel discussion on the draft Africa Mining Vision (AMV) compact with private sector leaders in Africa.

African Union Commission

 

 

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