Africa loses out in scramble for minerals

African countries are losing millions of dollars in the mining sector by making too many business concessions to outbid each other as powerful developed countries flock to the continent to extract abundant natural resources, a senior Government official has said. 

Macro Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Secretary Dr Desire Sibanda said the Chinese, Russian, Indian and British were flocking to Africa because returns were very high.

Dr Sibanda said this while addressing Members of Parliament last Friday during a workshop organised by the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe.

“Many multinational companies are flocking to Africa in search of mining investments today because returns are very high. The Chinese, Russians, Indians and British are the ones coming to negotiate in Africa. As a result Africa makes a lot of concessions like tax concessions in a bid to attract investors. We are doing this to outbid each other with investors and as a result we end up short-changing our people,” said Dr Sibanda.

He was explaining why Africa was losing out despite it being endowed with vast natural resources.

“Secondly, it is said that there is high incidence of tax avoidance by mining companies . Thirdly, there are too many secret mining contracts. Fourthly, lack of institutional capacity to enforce tax compliance,” said Dr Sibanda.

He said African Governments were failing to audit accounts for huge mining conglomerates owing to lack of staff.
Africa loses out in scramble for minerals
“Governments fail to audit the complicated accounts of multinational mining companies because they lack qualified staff and professional minerals and mining State auditors. Another thing is that the mining sector has contributed to growth in many countries but that growth has not been inclusive.

The citizen in the mineral rich countries live in poverty and companies are not contributing much in promoting rural development in these areas,” said Dr Sibanda.

Dr Sibanda hailed Zimbabwe for taking a leading role in the implementation of the African Mining Vision adopted by Heads of State and Government in 2009 through gazetting of some mining related Bills.

The Bills include Minerals Exploration Marketing Corporation Bill, Pan-African Minerals University of Sciences and Technology Bill and the forthcoming Mines and Mining Amendment Bill.

ZELA legal officer, Ms Veronica Zano, said many African countries were still lagging behind in attaining the Africa Mining Vision adopted by Heads of State and Government in 2009 as a catalysts for leveraging wealth.

She said attainment of the vision at national level required common national vision and strong political will.

ZELA head of programme and research, Mr Shamiso Mtisi, bemoaned the slow implementation of the African mining vision.

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