Ladies and Gentlemen
It is great pleasure for me to address you today on this important matter of resource management in the African continent. It is also important for me to note that this colloquium has been convened on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba, is the largest mining investment event in the world, bringing together government leaders and investors in mineral resources sector.
It is common knowledge that Africa is very rich in natural resources. The continent boosts of such resources as the reserves of iron, platinum, cobalt, gold, vanadium, diamonds and oil. It is therefore not surprising that the largest share of exports from our continent is that of natural resources.
The massive resource endowments in our countries of which I have referred have both been a source of hope and conflicts. Over the years since the countries in our continents began gaining independence from the colonial rule, culminating with the liberation of South Africa in the early 1990’s, our continent has become more peaceful and more democratic. It is important to note that underlying the conflicts in our various countries was the issue of natural resources.
The fights that have ensued were perpetrated by both external forces and internal forces. When we fight amongst ourselves for this resources we invite divisive external forces that are bent on exploiting our resources for their own purposes and we become the biggest losers. When our countries are at peace we are better able to manage our resources.
Ultimately the issue of resource management is about economic development. In this regard our vast resources are a source of hope. This is because resource management speaks to the important issue of how we can better use our natural resources in a way that will result in a better life for all our people.
I was therefore pleased to read that the anticipated outcome of this colloquium is “to contribute to a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities for the implementation of the new developmental approach to natural resource governance in the targeted countries. “
As I have already mentioned democratic governance has substantially improved and as a result the continent was able to grow at unprecedented levels. What is concerning, however is that these growths that various countries experienced have not really translated into a better life for all the people.
The growth did really lead to better employment opportunities leading increasing inequalities and alarming poverty levels. Evidently, there are many people in our countries who are not enjoying the democratic dividend.
We here in this colloquium need to ask ourselves the question: what is it that we need to do as parliamentarians to ensure that resource governance translate into a better life for all? I am raising this question mindful of the fact that as parliamentarians we are law makers whose role is to create policies that others have to implement. We however, have the advantage that we are also responsible for holding accountable those who have to implement these policies.
I say this because part of the problem has been that systems of accountability, as led by parliament have not been as strong as it is required for ensuring people centred policies are implemented. I am saying parliamentarians have two important roles to play when it comes to the matter of resource governance: firstly, they can enact policies that are people centred when it comes to resource management.
This means that they can enact policies that ensure that the benefits drawn from our resources are not misused. In addition, the policies have to ensure equitable distribution of the income from our resources.
Secondly, they can strengthen parliament as an institution to ensure that it exercises its oversight role effectively. Parliamentarians need to ensure that government and public officials use their powers and available resources appropriately, lawfully and in ways that respond to the needs and interests of all our people. In doing this parliament can enhance public confidence in the integrity of the government’s activities, which encourages all societal groups to accept the policies of the emanating from executive branch, rather than resorting to violent conflict.
The second question that we need to respond to is: do we have the capacity in our countries to manage these resources? I ask this question because in most cases our inability to derive maximum benefit is caused by asymmetry of information. By this I mean case where the private sector with whom we deal have more expertise than our governments the result of which we enter into inequality contracts to the advantage of the private players.
The shortage of capacity also limits our desire to beneficiate our resources which is the reason for large percentage of the export of raw materials. As parliamentarians we need to assess whether our policies are responding adequately to the important issue of capacity building.
Parliamentarians can also play an influential role in advancing natural resource governance by ensuring the following amongst others:
- Ensuring that there is transparency of extraction contracts.
- Exercising oversight on compliance with rules specified by contracts and laws.
- Ensuring that all the government agencies charged with the responsibility of managing the resources are held accountable
- Ensuring that all the parties that are represented in parliament understand the strategic interest of the country in properly managing its resources.
- Programme director,
As I conclude I would like to remind all delegates present today that they must be mindful that we have entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution which, amongst many other things that it will bring, will change the manner in which mineral resources are extraction and beneficiation will be performed in the future.
Automation, which is commonly known mechanisation in the mining sector will take centre stage going into the future. As delegates deliberate on this challenge of resource management, they need to take into consideration that the technological developments under the umbrella of the 4th industrial revolution offer an opportunity for all countries to better manage their resources and derive maximum value from their resources.
It is therefore important for parliamentarians to start deliberating on policies that will respond adequately to this revolution in relation to resource governance.
I thank you