Potsdam Spring Dialogues 2014

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Natural Resource Governance in Africa.
How to Benefit from Regional Integration

07-08 May 2014, Potsdam

Conference language: English

- Participation on personal invitation only - 

Nowadays, many African countries are described as “resource-rich”. In the past, however, resource wealth has often had a negative impact on national development. This is partly due to macroeconomic challenges and price volatility in the world commodity markets, but some of the causes are home-grown. Inadequate legislative and regulatory frameworks, particularly in relation to the award of mining contracts, a lack of accountability in respect of revenues and expenditure, and inadequate tax systems are obstacles to development and to propoor growth. The situation is exacerbated by widespread corruption, an absence of transparency, and failure to implement social and environmental standards. Instead of promoting development , resource abundance has, in the past, often had the opposite effect, with the desire to control these resources sometimes triggering brutal conflicts that have lasted for years.

Many resource-rich African countries have already begun to address these challenges. Guidance for these countries comes in the shape of the Africa Mining Vision (AMV) adopted by the African Union in 2009. It aims to achieve good resource government and thus improve African countries’ position in the international resource markets. The African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), launched by the African Union in 2013, will provide strategic and operational support for the Vision and for its Action Plan, adopted two years ago. Various initiatives to improve and harmonise resource governance exist within the individual economic communities as well.

In 2000 – long before the AMV came into being – the Southern African Development Community (SADC) launched a programme on harmonisation of mining policies, whose aims include improving convergence between country policies and monitoring compliance with international environmental and social standards. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) set out its objectives for this policy area in the ECOWAS Directive on the Harmonization of Guiding Principles and Policies in the Mining Sector, adopted in summer 2009. It defines principles for policy harmonisation, as well as sustainability and transparency criteria. To support implementation, the ECOWAS Mineral Development Policy (EMDP) was adopted in 2011. And in East Africa, the issue of harmonised mineral resource governance is enshrined in the founding treaty of the East African Community (EAC), although the 3rd EAC Development Strategy, which contains a similar commitment, is now regarded as more significant. 

At the Potsdam Spring Dialogues 2014, the sef and its partners will be turning the spotlight on some of the challenges facing development-oriented resource governance, with a focus on solutions. We will discuss questions for licenses and mining contracts, transparency and good financial governance and have a comparative view on different initiatives of RECs and other transnational regional groupings. The final panel will finally open its focus on the international level and thus also ask for German and European opportunities and responsibilities.

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