The commodity dependence of most African countries has intensified, despite claims of remarkable economic performance in recent times, Dr Yao Graham, Coordinator of the Third World Network Africa, has said.
Addressing participants at the 14th Review and Strategy Conference of African Initiative on Mining Environment and Society (AIMES), Dr Graham said amidst the deafening rhetoric that Africa is rising; most countries on the continent continue to reel under unfavourable economic conditions.
“The economies of most countries on the continent are fragile and this is going side by side with the deafening rhetoric that Africa was rising,” he said, at the opening session of the conference.
Increased global demand for minerals, the accompanying price rises and growing mining investments have led to the growth in exports and earnings and resultant economic growth in mineral producing African countries.
The three-day AIMES conference seeks to broaden consensus for a re-orientation of policies for structural transformation of Africa’s economies.
The AIMES is a pan-African network of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) working on mining and development issues since 1998, and brings together a broad spectrum of groups working on different aspects of mining and development, focusing on the theme of mining’s role in Africa’s development.
It brings together 40 representatives of CSO’s and key social constituencies from across Africa to develop common perspectives on the challenges of realizing the African Mining Vision. It is on the theme: “The Africa Mining Vision: From Promise to Realization”.
The objectives of the conference is to increase members’ knowledge of the content of status and processes around ongoing mining reform agenda at various levels; define an advocacy agenda and strategy for the network, in respect of the AMV reform agenda, and agree ways of strengthening AIMES and enhancing its outreach to other networks and constituencies.
Dr Graham said besides the falling commodity prices on the international market, contract secrecy in the mining sector was a major hindrance to harnessing resources for development.
There is also the problem of poor management of resources, he said.
Dr Graham said Africa’s economies should escape from their raw material commodity export dependence, a feature which has been accentuated by the ongoing commodity boom, and must embark on a path of commodity based industrialization.
The thematic areas for the conference include the Africa Mining Vision struggle to advance the rights and interests of constituencies and definition of an agenda of collective engagement, optimizing mining revenue and utilization and relevance of ongoing campaigns for the work of AIMES; and tackling the challenges of mining and structural transformation.
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