Mining, mineral and resources ministers, think tanks, civil society and business gathered to discuss the developmental approach to natural resource governance in Africa.

The International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), convened a high level panel on 7  and 8 February under the theme ‘Political parties and natural resource governance: building capacities for a developmental approach’ on the sidelines of the Investing in African Mining Indaba

The theme of the panel was in accordance with South African Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane’s remarks at the opening address of the Indaba on Monday, when he called on the mining sector to work with government in addressing some of the country’s biggest concerns. Minister Zwane said “we must remain committed to the principle of shared prosperity and responsible investment in the mining sector”.

In light of this, the first day’s discussion centred around the way forward for the mining sector and government alike. Dr Thomas Munthali, Director of Knowledge and Learning at ACBF, addressed delegates by saying that there was a need to discuss the “roles of all stakeholders concerned in order to contribute to the sustainable, inclusive management of natural resources in Africa”.

In 2016, IDEA stated that Africa suffers from the “paradox of plenty”, whereby the rich and plentiful natural resources on the continent do not directly translate to equal levels of prosperity, development and resource-based industrialisation.

This has been attributed to the varied developmental approaches to resource management and governance, which have attracted heavy foreign direct investment (FDI) and increasing GDP growth, but have also left a devastating developmental impact on Africa.

These liberalised regimes, says Professor Thomas Munthali, thought leader and resource consultant at IDEA, have failed to transform the mining and resource sector and have only served to further entrench poverty and inequality in these resource-rich countries.

According to the ACBF, an organisation that supports capacity development through investments, technical support, knowledge generation and sharing across Africa, one key obstacle preventing African countries from realising their potential is lack of capacity for natural resource governance both at the policy/regulation design and implementation levels. This manifests in the lack of strong institutions and weak policies that are principally aimed at short-term gains rather than at long-term development objectives.

“A key stakeholder with regard to natural resource governance is the political party” says Dr Munthali. “Therefore, capacity building of political parties in natural resource governance is a crucial element to ensure that natural resource governance responds to citizens’ expectations and benefits the country as a whole rather than a few individuals.”