Why is it that Africa, which hosts some of the most abundant mineral and energy resources in the world, is not fully benefitting from this wealth?
A significant share of recent new investments for mineral and energy resource exploration and development has been in Africa and this needs to contribute directly to the inclusive prosperity of the continent. Recognizing the need for homegrown solutions that are aligned to the African Union’s Africa Mining Vision, work is rapidly progressing to develop a resource management system for Africa based on UNECE’s United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC).
Several critical areas have been identified in the sustainable development of resources in Africa, including availability of quality resource information; capacity to negotiate fair deals; good governance; infrastructure development; and, support to artisanal and small-scale mining. It is apparent that a resource management framework that connects all the dots is central to achieving the vision in Africa. With this as the aim, the African Union (AU) decided to develop a UNFC-based African Mineral and Energy Resources Classification and Management System (UNFC-AMREC) as a unifying system for Africa. The African Union-AMREC Working Group was created comprising a group of professionals in Africa drawn from a broad network of stakeholder groups for the speedy development of this system. UNECE’s Expert Group on Resource Classification (EGRC), which develops and maintains UNFC, has been providing technical support for this initiative.
The Kick-off Workshop of the AU-AMREC Working Group was held on the sidelines of the 27th Colloquium of African Geology and 17th Conference of the Geological Society of Africa, 21-28 July, Aveiro, Portugal. The objective of the workshop was to continue the initiative of “UNFC for Africa” to support the need for the transparent, equitable and optimal development of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development.
“Evidence shows that only a fifth of African mineral resources are explored and developed”, said Frank Mugyeni, Head, Mineral Resource Unit of the African Union Commission, Vice-Chair of EGRC and Chairman of the AU-AMREC Working Group. “Africa needs a guiding system and a skills revolution to bring about a transformation in its resource management approach”.
Development of AMREC includes preparing a Pan-African Reserves and Resources Reporting Code (PARC), which is expected to be a game-changer in public reporting in Africa and channelling of capital investments. “We need a system that can enable comprehensive resource recovery, focusing not just on the economically promising resources, but also on the marginally and sub-economic part of the resource-base”, pointed out Alex Nwegbu, President of the Organization of African Geological Surveys (OAGS) and Director-General of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency. “UNFC squarely fits this requirement.”
For the transformation called for by the AMV and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to happen, the mining industry in the region should not only focus on returns to investors, but also to the countries and their peoples. UNFC-AMREC-PARC will provide such a tool for transparent reporting to the people, industries, stakeholders and markets, balancing short-term and long-term needs and objectives.
“AMREC will enable us to look beyond the search for single target minerals, when we often ignore resources of greater value or usefulness because we are only looking for one”, remarked Tunde Arisekola, Director of National Geosciences Research Laboratories, Nigeria, Vice-Chair of EGRC and Technical Coordinator of the AU-AMREC Working Group. “AMREC will bring us to parity with international standards in a format designed for the specific needs and priorities of our region at local, national and region-wide levels”.
“UNFC is a comprehensive framework that applies to all resources and can be used for policy formulation, government resource management, and financial allocation”, said Harikrishnan Tulsidas, Economic Affairs Officer, Sustainable Energy Division, UNECE. “With UNFC-AMREC we expect to have a complete system that helps Africa manage its resources for the benefit of all its people”.