At ECOWAS Mining Forum… Sierra Leone’s Deputy Mines Minister advocates for uniformed mining laws in sub-region

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By Ibrahim Keh-Turay

Mining agreements with multinational foreign investments have often been criticized for failing to bring about the much needed economic prosperity to mineral-rich African countries. From concession to lease agreements, big investors have always made away with the bigger share of every mineral extracted on African soil – leaving its populations in abject poverty. The situation has also often led to protests and bloody conflicts and Sierra Leone is no stranger to this.

A glimmer of hope and a louder voice of reasoning  has emerged from Sierra Leone at the 4th Edition of the ECOWAS Mining and Oil Forum currently underway at the West African nation of Benin.

The Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Umaru Napoleon Koroma has risen to the occasion to become one of the most prominent advocates for the harmonization of mining laws and regulatory frameworks in the Sub-region. This, according the Deputy Minister would not only guarantee  ECOWAS countries a better premium from their mineral resources but will equally put them in a stronger position to bargain and rescue their countries from the incessant exploitation of mining corporations.

In his short but  brilliant presentation, the Deputy Minister challenged the sub regional body to move away from those simple guidelines that have had  very little or no impact in the way countries benefit from their natural resources but develop what he referred to as “model contract laws” which will ensure both  countries and investors are in tandem with the wishes and aspirations of the masses.

Deputy Minister Umaru Napoleon Koroma who  suddenly became an undisputed star at the two-days event (as a result of his very insightful contributions) was emphatic that concession agreements with mining companies in the sub-region have often given unfair advantage to investors who will capitalize on the fact that other countries with the same natural resources would grant them these concessions if others do not  regardless of the economic consequence to their nations.

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