Nairobi, Kenya, December 12, 2017—How can African countries most effectively take advantage of the natural minerals with which they have been endowed? How might these resources fuel their development, and propel them towards their envisioned futures? These questions were the focus of the ongoing African Mining Legislation Atlas (AMLA) Workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya. The capacity building event, held from 3-12 December, will focus on equipping its 51 participating students and researchers, representing 16 African countries and 23 African universities, with the knowledge and means to better understand and improve legal frameworks in the sector.
Jointly organized and hosted by the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), a public international institution hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB), he Strathmore University Extractives Industry Centre, and the African Union (AU), this ten-day workshop is designed to provide a ‘crash course’ to law students, researchers and young professionals from across the African region in the legal, financial, administrative and logistical aspects of the mining industry.
"Through the AMLA platform, we have the opportunity to substantively change and improve conditions in the African mining sector. Let us take full advantage of this opportunity!" This was the rallying call made by Dr. Abdoul-Karim Camara, one of the Project Coordinators of the African Legal Support Facility’s African Mining Legislation Atlas Project, at the inauguration of the AMLA Workshop.
The event was launched with an engaging team-building exercise. After being ferried to the Karura urban forest in Nairobi, students were split into teams and given a series of challenges which called upon their cooperation skills, their awareness of government policies and their knowledge of mining laws. Now familiar with one another and their lecturers, the students can look forward to an intensive week-and-a-half of lectures, presentations and hands-on exercises led by luminaries in the industry.
The Workshop follows several recently-organized AMLA events, including a presentation and open discussion held in Maputo, Mozambique on the margins of the Graça Machel Trust’s Annual Conference. Facilitated by Mr. Francky Lukanda, one of the Project Coordinators of the AMLA Project and held on 28 November, the event revolved around the challenge of increasing the visibility of women in the mining sector. Increasingly, the mining sector is becoming a growing source of interest among female professionals on the continent, Mr. Lukanda demonstrated how improved access to knowledge and information, particularly information regarding African mining legislation, can in turn improve the access of women to opportunities in the industry.
"By making African mining laws broadly accessible, we ensure that everyone is on the same page. This leads to discussions which are factual, constructive and which are based on shared knowledge," explained Ms. Sheila Khama, the Manager of the World Bank’s Energy and Extractive Industries Global Practice, and a keynote speaker at the Opening of the AMLA Workshop.
This attempt to gather, organize and broadly disseminate Africa’s mining legal frameworks is at the heart of the AMLA Project. The Project was jointly initiated by the World Bank, the ALSF and the African Union in 2013—originally housed by the World Bank, the Project was subsequently transferred to the ALSF in July 2017.The African Mining Legislation Atlas aims to provide free access to the 53 existing mining codes of the continent in a reader-friendly and easily-searchable format.
The AMLA platform goes beyond research, providing tools such as the Guiding Template. The ‘Guiding Template’ is a mining law drafting tool which guides policy-makers as they craft legislation, address emerging challenges and consider the over 200 topics elaborated by the Template. Developed on the basis of Africa’s existing mining laws and sensitive to the unique character and context of each African country, the Template is an invaluable feature for decision-makers who are either drafting new laws or revising previously-adopted ones.
At the conclusion of the workshop, following a competitive selection process, 15 participants will be selected to join the AMLA Legal Research Team (LRT). The LRT is composed of advanced law students selected from African universities, whose main responsibility is to populate the AMLA platform. LRT members locate mining and mining-related legislation, analyze it and conduct comparative research across hundreds of salient topics.