PWYP in Africa should intensify its work to advance the Africa Mining Vision

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With members in 26 African countries, the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) coalition is one of the biggest and most widespread CSO networks working on mineral governance issues in Africa. PWYP members are an important factor in the influence and continuing growth of citizens’ pressure on African governments and mining companies for accountability in the extractive sector.  As we enter the second decade since the adoption of the Africa Mining Vision (AMV), PWYP members in Africa should aim to increase their engagement with the transformative agenda of the AMV.

Over the past thirty years, African countries, which are heavily dependent on the export of mineral commodities, have pursued a strategy of creating enabling conditions for large scale foreign firms to invest in their mineral sectors, with mineral revenues the main economic benefit expected from this approach. Across Africa, minerals – which are public resources – are being managed in trust for citizens by their governments. In this context, it is important that civil society in Africa is vigilant about the terms on which the continent’s non-renewable mineral resources are being exploited and that revenues accruing from such exploitation are used to improve the lives of citizens.

Ultimately the interest of PWYP members in Africa in the equitable capture and optimal utilization of mineral revenues is driven by a broader and more fundamental concern: how can the exploitation of Africa’s non-renewable minerals resources contribute to the transformation of its economies and improvements in the lives of its citizens? This wider objective was what led African governments to adopt the Africa Mining Vision in February 2009.  The AMV was conceived at the height of the commodities boom of the 2000s. The high prices for minerals resulted in increases in public revenue but also led many to conclude that whilst it is important to get good revenues from mineral production, Africa needed to get more economic and social value from its minerals.

The AMV aspires to a “transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of [Africa’s] mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development”. How to move towards this goal has been elaborated in key policy documents such as the AMV Action Plan and the African Mineral Governance Framework (AMGF). The Action Plan gives operational form to the objectives of the Vision. Mining fiscal issues, one of the key focus areas of PWYP’s work, are the subject of the one of the nine policy pillars of the Action Plan. The others are Geological and mining information systems; Building human and institutional capacities; Artisanal and small-scale mining; Mineral sector governance; Research and development; Environment and social issues; Linkages and diversification; and Mobilizing mining and infrastructure investment. Each of these clusters is elaborated around a Programme goal and its expected accomplishments.  To date, over 20 African countries have initiated AMV based reforms and at least two regions, ECOWAS and SADC, have developed AMV based mineral governance regimes.

Over the past ten years PWYP members in Africa have been among the hundreds of African CSOs who have embraced and are working for the realization of the AMV agenda. They have taken part in multi-stakeholder processes to elaborate the AMV policy framework. They have also been working with other African CSOs to build a broad constituency for, and raise public awareness about, the AMV and to press governments to domesticate and implement this African owned comprehensive mineral governance framework.

In November 2014, five years after the adoption of the AMV, African members of PWYP joined hands with some other African organisations and networks, including Third World Network-Africa, in a pan-African conference to evaluate the progress of the AMV agenda.  The communique from the Lusaka conference called on CSOs to help to improve knowledge of public officials and politicians, including MPs; and to raise public awareness about the development potential of the AMV agenda and put Governments and implementing institutions under all forms of legitimate political and legal pressure to fulfill their undertakings in respect of the AMV.  To achieve these aims it was felt important that: 1) the types of organisations gathered at the Lusaka conference systematise their collaboration and common engagement in advocacy around the AMV agenda; and 2) reach out and draw in other civil society organisations, especially those which normally do not engage in advocacy on mining and development issues. The meeting also recognised the importance of regional and pan-African cooperation among diverse organisations and networks.

These conclusions from 2014 remain important and inform one of the key objectives of the current PWYP Africa Steering Committee for their 2017-2020 term of office. So, as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the AMV in 2019, what could be some of the specific advocacy issues that PWYP in Africa can pick up and what actions can they undertake? Below are some of the ideas that I discussed with the ASC during a one day AMV training I delivered following their most recent meeting in Brussels in November 2018:

  1. Knowledge and understanding is the foundation of good advocacy. PWYP members in Africa can systematically undertake awareness building among members about the AMV agenda. The membership of PYWP coalitions is diverse and whilst there is unity around the issue of mineral revenues, PWYP members are also interested in and engaged on many of the other issues covered by the AMV agenda, such as  human rights, environmental and social issues, building human and institutional capacities in the extractive sector and artisanal and small-scale mining.
  2. PWYP members in Africa can use the sections of the AMV on fiscal issues to inform and bolster their advocacy and thereby contribute to the domestication of the AMV. The AMGF has no less than 96 assessment questions on fiscal issues – PWYP members can bring their experience and expertise to bear here.
  3. The building of mineral based linkages and economic diversification is the most important issue the AMV has added to mineral governance in Africa. To date, the uptake by CSOs has been poor. PWYP members in Africa can help highlight this component of the AMV which offers the best long-term route to optimizing the contribution of minerals to Africa’s transformation. Throughout history, fiscal returns have been only one of the several ways through which mineral resources have contributed to the transformation and development of economies and societies. Everywhere the key contribution has come from the building of linkages and economic diversification.
  4. The AMV makes a strong case for the development and use of inclusive, participatory and transparent mechanisms in all aspects of mineral governance in Africa. This is an issue of cross cutting importance. PWYP members in Africa have a wealth of experience in both coalition building and in multi-stakeholder governance from their work with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).  They should join hands with other CSOs in Africa to work for the application of the AMV principles in the countries where they are present.
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