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The First Extraordinary Session of the Africa Union Conference on Ministers responsible for Mineral Resources that was being co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia ended last week with calls for the establishment of a Mineral Resources Department within the AU Commission. This would co-ordinate the development of the sector across the continent.

According to recommendations adopted at the end of the conference, AU member states were also challenged to expedite the establishment of the African Minerals Development Centre.

“In view of the fact that mining is central to development, the AUC should not limit itself to co-ordination but also work on technical issues. In this regard, a Division of Mineral Resources should be created at the AUC under the Department of Trade and Industry,” reads part of the recommendations.

The conference also called for increased awareness campaigns of the AMDC among various stakeholders.

“The AMDC should be established as a specialised agency of the AU. The draft statute should be forwarded expeditiously to the decision-making process of the AU for adoption.

“The AUC and member states should undertake consultations on the institutionalisation of the AMDC within mining industry representatives as well as civil society,” further read the recommendations.

The AMDC will be tasked with leading the implementation of the African Mining Vision adopted in 2009 as a strategy to ensure that Africa derives more benefits in an equitable manner, from its abundant natural resources.

In his closing remarks, Zambia’s Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Mr Christopher Yaluma said there was need for a unity of purpose among African countries to develop their economies.

“As we emphasised during the meeting, African states need structural transformation of economies in order to bring about sustainable growth and development. This, therefore, calls for a unity of purpose among states endowed with mineral resources.

“The establishment of a viable institution that will provide support to our countries striving to achieve optimal exploitation of our mineral resources for sustainable economic development is a further demonstration of our determination to work together to achieve our vision, said Mr Yaluma.

He said Africa’s vast mineral resources had the potential to transform its economies and improve the standards of living of its people.

Mr Yaluma urged African nations to come up with standardised mining policies that would reduce exploitation by unscrupulous investors.

The conference was attended by various countries including regional bodies and UN agencies.

Source : The Herald