The African Development Bank’s African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) has been praised by Uganda’s prime minister for helping equip government officials with the skills needed to negotiate favourable mining agreements in Africa.

Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda was speaking at the closing ceremony of the Mineral Wealth Conference on October 2 in Kampala, Uganda, where the ALSF conducted a five-day training from 28 September to 2 October. Regulators, private and public lawyers and professional services practitioners from different line ministries attended the training.

He reiterated the need for strengthened human capacity that is critical to facilitate governments’ efforts to maximise benefits from the extraction of natural resources in the mining sector.

The topics covered during the training included understanding mineral rights, land access and mine development; environmental and social issues; regulatory impact assessments; the anatomy of mining agreements; and the negotiation of mining agreements.

According to Tongayi Masvikwa, Legal Counsel at the ALSF, the workshop was designed to breakdown the anatomy of mining agreements and focus on the negotiable aspects of such agreements. The aim is to build the legal capacity of senior representatives of state ministries and other institutions involved in the negotiation of mining agreements he added.

Speaking to participants at the workshop, Zweli Mkhize, Treasurer General of the African National Conference, stated that the challenge for African governments is to look for ways to better manage the resources that exist on the continent. “How do we build strong and competent institutions and how do we create capable professional expertise within those institutions to build and boost economic growth on the continent?” he queried.

Elly Karuhanga, Chairman of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, emphasised that agreements in the extractives sector require competence in negotiating concessions that are of benefit to African governments. “We need a win-win situation where government and the private sector benefit from their investment,” he said.

Outlining the ALSF’s objectives, Masvikwa stated that the current interventions of the ALSF aim to help bridge the gaps in legal capabilities thereby leveling the negotiating playing field to further the economic development of African states. He explained that the anticipated impact of the capacity-building programme is an increase in the ability of the government to protect its legal rights and maximise the development impact of the mining agreements it enters into.

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