The mining development policy of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) collapses

Thursday 7 March 2013

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Source: Pambazuka news.

Author: Aly Sagne.

Theme: Mining policy at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Keywords: mining resources, ECOWAS, mining code, civil society, Accra.

About a dozen civil society organizations from Western Africa meeting in Accra for two days, to hold a strategic, evaluative and reflection meeting on mining development resource policies of the ECOWAS used this opportunity to stage their strongest protest for the non participation, from some time now, in the implementation of the new community mining policy.

In fact, ECOWAS and the civil society have closely cooperated from the beginning of the process in April 2008 in Dakar under the direction of OXFAM; starting in the design stage until the adoption by the Conference of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in February 2012. Regretfully we have noticed that this cooperation is collapsing, now that the whole world is aware of the initiative to draft a community mining code has been promoted by civil society organizations in the sub-region and that the Civil Society Organization Forum from Western Africa played an important role.

Members of the Civil Society Organization Forum from Western Africa said that they no longer receive information on the evolution of the process, and that in no case, the civil society has been mentioned to form part of the Action Plan integrating the Additional Act A/SA.16/02/12 related to the adoption of a mining resource development policy of the ECOWAS. Thus, one of the recommendations from this meeting is to take any step possible to “preserve this association” and to return to the civil society the role it deserves in this process.

As a reminder, upon the adoption of the mining development policy, the ECOWAS member states were guided by the concern of promoting the exploitation of mining resources with the aim of obtaining a sustainable economic growth in the region and the integrated socio-economic development for member states. In that sense, and in a progressive manner the ECOWAS had adopted a mining directive in May 2009, after that the Additional Act related to the adoption of the mining development policy in February 2012, accompanied by an Action Plan.

Member states are called to “harmonize their national mining resource policies with the mining development policy” in virtue of Article 4 of the Act; and to publish it in the Official Gazette of each member state, thirty days after receiving the information by the Committee of ECOWAS (Article 6). And lastly, the regional mining code will be enacted in July 2014.

Which is the real situation at present?

Upon reading the obligations supra, according to ECOWAS, the situation related to the implementation of this mining policy at a community level can be summarized as follows:

- Six countries abide by Article 4: Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Togo and Ghana;

- Three countries are under process: Mali, Niger and Nigeria ;

- Two countries have the status “to be solved”: Liberia and Sierra Leona ;

- Once country states “a problem”: Cape Verde (It has not signed the Additional Act);

- Process to be initiated: Côte d’Ivoire.

Regarding article 6 on the harmonization of Codes, the evaluation is moderate. The majority of States has already had the merging of their mining policy (for example Mali, Guinea and Niger), others are under the process (such as Senegal, Sierra Leona and Côte d’Ivoire).

The meeting ended with the identification of the main challenges related to the implementation of the mining development policy. Thus, they already have the capacity and they have the political will of our governments to take possession of the community mining policy and to fully integrate it to our national standards and regulations, meeting the deadline of 2014, and especially the capacity of the civil society from Western Africa to exert a positive influence in the process at a regional and national level.

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