Alweendo says Africans are justified for wanting to benefit from extraction of minerals
The Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo said Africans have good reason in demanding to see better returns from the extraction of their mineral resources.
Alweendo, who delivered the opening address at the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business Breakfast Meeting in Toronto, Canada on Tuesday said the meeting comes at a time when across the continent the African people are demanding that they see better returns from the extraction of their mineral resources, adding that they are therefore justified in demanding that their standard of living must improve.
Alweendo stressed that elected political representatives should no longer rely solely on political rhetoric and sloganeering to win elections, adding that the African electorate is increasingly educated, worldly, understand and expect that elected political office bearers provide the leadership that will enable smart investment that delivers win-win outcomes.
“It is not that the African citizens do not understand the complexity of investing in the extractive industry – because they do. They understand very well that the extractive industry is an expensive business. They understand that we need partners who will bring the necessary expertise and capital in exchange for the rights and privilege to explore and extract the mineral resources. But they also hope for a mutually beneficially relationship with the investment community; a relationship built on a concept of shared economic benefits,” Alweendo said.
The minister said in order for mining operations to make a profit for the shareholders while serving and impacting society, African politics and policies particularly those on License to Operate and sustainability, need to change.
He highlighted that in its broadest definition, Licence to Operate is beyond meeting the regulatory approvals and obtaining exploration licenses and mining licenses, adding that it is about presenting a manifesto to the communities and the people where you intend to mine; and that manifesto needs to showcase how you plan to make life better for them.
“This will include providing decent jobs, respecting local and community cultures and customs – as well as immersing yourself as a corporate member of that community and making a contribution to the broader advancement of that community,” Alweendo said.
He further said governments on the African continent still need to do far more to strengthen the culture of governance, ethical and professional leadership, adding that strong governance structures and ethical conduct at all times amongst front line officials, senior executives and political leaders must become sacrosanct.
“The trouble with unethical leadership is that it erodes public trust. It undermines the mandate to govern that the electorate bestows on politicians. It also harms the businesses and the enterprises expected to operate in an environment where good governance is not adhered to. Indeed our economies will grow much faster and sustainably only when have dismantled and eliminated all regressive obstacles from doing business in Africa,” Alweendo said.
Caption: Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo addressing business executives and industry stakeholders at the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business Breakfast Meeting in Toronto, Canada on 3 March.