March 23, 2016 By Mohamed Massaquoi
The Natural Resource Governance and Economic Justice Network (NaRGEJ), a civil society outfit on natural resource issues, in partnership with Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) and Transparency International, with support from Third World Network and Global Human Rights, has organised a one-day sensitisation meeting for civil society organisations on the Africa Mining Vision (AMV) at Santanno House in Freetown.
The AMV document, which was developed in 2009 by heads of state and governments across Africa, has not been fully domesticated by many governments, although experts say serious actions have been taken by respective governments for its full implementation, thus the reason for the one day sensitisation confab.
Another thrust of the meeting was to prepare activists embark on massive sensitisation at various communities so that state authorities would take swift action to implement the AMV.
In his presentation, Executive Director of NMJD, Abu Brima, said the AMV was an important document that clearly envisaged prudence in the mining sector in Africa, adding that the management of natural resources was significant for the economic growth and development of the continent.
He noted that since the document was signed some years ago, civil society organisations have not been able to come together to extensively discuss it, adding that as civil society activists their vision was to see the mining sector as catalyst for development, as Sierra Leone was losing immense proceeds from its mineral wealth.
“Some time ago GIZ did something on the AMV, but today we are bringing all of you together in this forum to discuss frankly. This is the beginning of a long process but I am sure collaboratively we will succeed in our drive to make our mining sector profitable,” he said.
Pauline Vande-Pallen from Third World Network Ghana, said they were concerned about civil society groups being well informed for their full participation in the process, adding that she was in the country to learn more about what was happening and share knowledge on community engagement in order to participate in policy issues.
Deputy Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Abdul Ignosi Koroma, said NaRGEJ members were also part of the Sierra Leone Extractive Sector Panel established by government to undertake a benchmarking assessment of the extractive sector in the country.
This, he said, would improve effectiveness in the sector by identifying existing gaps within the mining sector, adding that it was evident that Africa possesses huge natural resource wealth that has the potential to drag the continent out of poverty.
“With the AMV, Africa has constructed a solid roadmap that paves the way for the extractive sector to significantly contribute to the development of Africa. This vision provides for the utilisation of our natural resources in a manner that ensures that communities see real benefit from large scale, small scale and artisanal mining operations,” he said, adding that government was committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in the mining sector for the benefit of Sierra Leoneans.