AS Tanzania grapples with challenges related to mining, the issue covers the broader East African region, as a bill in regard to the sector is now in the hands of the sector’s committee at the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
The EAC Mining Bill that was moved by Mr Chris Opoka- Okumu (Uganda) hopes to provide a legal framework for the regulation of mining operations in the East African Community (EAC).
It seeks to implement the EAC Vision 2050 and specifically to operationalise Article 114(2) (c ) (iv) of the EAC Treaty that calls for harmonisation of mining regulations to ensure environmentally friendly and sound mining practices.
The Bill further provides for a transparent and accountable mechanism for reporting mining and mineral related activities in the region. It is aimed at ultimately reducing differences in the operating environment for the sector. It sailed through after the first reading and sent to a committee for necessary actions.
It is apparent that by seeking to harmonize mineral and mining laws and policies, stems from acknowledgement of the great potential that mineral resources have in contributing to poverty alleviation and to national and regional economic development.
This comes at a time when the mineral-rate eastern African country is attracting foreign explorers. The region is considered to have a great potential of minerals, ranging from oil, natural gas, titanium, and gold, among others.
Analysts, however, warn that lack of a comprehensive policy on mining could deny regional economies a chance to enjoy the proceeds of the business.
The EAC Vision 2050 lays out a broad perspective in which the region optimizes the utilisation of its resources to accelerate productivity and the social wellbeing of its people. It portrays a future East Africa with rising personal prosperity in cohesive societies, competitive economies, and strong inter-regional interaction.
It is envisaged that by 2050 per capita incomes will grow ten-fold to US$10,000, thereby moving the region into uppermiddle income category. The region is committed to radiate a stable macroeconomic policy framework that will provide the foundation for higher and more sustained growth between now and 2050.
This will include ensuring macro-economic stability; higher savings and investment rates; as well as providing a conducive business environment that will make East Africa a haven for private sector investment and thereby spur high and sustained economic growth rates of at least 10 per cent per annum.
The growth prospects for East Africa are favoured by the on-going continental integration initiatives and steps being undertaken to promote inter and intra-regional trade.
The East African region stands at a critical turning point in its socioeconomic development. Relatively strong growth over the last decade offers the foundation for transforming the region over the next three decades. The improved performance has raised the aspirations of East Africans and sprouted renewed interest for investment in the region.
The EAC Heads of State are determined to implement the necessary agenda to fulfill the rising aspirations and the continental and global expectations. In Tanzania the public is waiting for a report from a second mineral concentrates probe team.
The first team has already presented its report to President John Magufuli, revealing a number of undeclared strategic minerals and under-invoicing of the resources, among others. The second report is likely to settle the contentious saga.