BY BUSINESS REPORTER
THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region holds the highest potential for minerals development on the continent, secretary-general Sindiso Ngwenya has said.
Speaking at the Africa Down Under (ADU) conference on mining in Australia last week, Ngwenya said this potential can be sustainably harnessed through establishment of governance structures and leveraging on the existing multinational trade agreements.
He said sound institutional frameworks would enable Comesa’s national and sub-national governments to have a say in decisions regarding the use of resources located in their territories.
“Good governance underlines the sustainable exploitation of mineral resources,” Ngwenya said.
“Harmonisation of national and regional mining policies will, thus, underpin sustainable and broad-based socio-economic development in the African region for the benefit of all the citizens.”
In his address titled Promoting Sustainable Mining Development through Cross-Sector Alliances and Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships in Comesa, Ngwenya noted that various types of mineral resources can be fully tapped as the bloc adopts the Mining Vision of Africa.
The ADU conference is an annual event aimed at raising awareness of Australia’s interests in African mining and energy. It is attended by governments, investors, mining service industry, suppliers and mining consultants.
“The introduction of an appropriate policy mix and the best global mining practices in line with country-specific circumstances would improve institutional capacities and fiscal governance,” Ngwenya said
Further, he noted that multilateral trade agreement such as the Tripartite Free Trade Area signed by Comesa, East African Community and Southern Africa Development Community provides the necessary framework for multinational mining companies to do business.
“Comesa national governments should improve their mining policies in line with the African Mining Vision’s principles of “transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of a country’s mineral resources to underpin broad-based socio-economic development,” he said.
Comesa’s mining industry is dominated by Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.
Ngwenya said Comesa countries need to play a key role in proactively regulating the conditions
for investment to secure the long-term development of their countries.
“While improved governance of institutions is critical at sector level, Comesa national governments’ forging optimal partnerships in building spatial linkages for economic diversification can have a multiplier effect on development outcomes, particularly in its landlocked low-income economies,” said.