The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and mining firm AngloGold Ashanti Tuesday announced the formation of the African Mineral Skills Initiative (AMSI) which will eradicate the shortage of skills in the Africa’s mineral sector development.
AMSI, launched at UNECA’s eighth African Development Forum, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is aimed at reducing the shortage of skills and human resources which are needed to adequately support, manage and leverage minerals development and growth opportunities.
Richard Duffy, Executive Vice President for Africa at AngloGold Ashanti, who addressed the forum, emphasised the importance of the African Mining Vision as a clear and precise document that has brought a renewed energy and focus to the vital role that mining and minerals can play in helping Africa achieve its development goals.
“The mining sector in Africa is booming – and it needs skills,” said Duffy, “But the continent’s educational institutions are not currently in a position to meet this growing demand for a broad range of skills.
To meet the needs of governments which need to regulate the mining sector, civil society which needs to offer an independent view of the sector, and the private sector which needs to grow and improve – a drastic increase in the number of African with ‘minerals skills’ is needed.
Antonio Pedro, Director, ECA Eastern African Sub-regional office, said the skills initiative was a welcome development as partnerships are needed in the mining industry to strengthen the human and institutional capacities in the African minerals sector.
“Creating these capacities would strengthen Africa’s bargaining power, and this is something the Africa Minerals Development Centre, to be established by the African Union Commission, ECA and the African Development Bank would aim to see up-scaled,” he said.
Africa needs to participate more effectively in the minerals value chain, Pedro said, adding: “this would lead to inclusive growth and economic transformation that address vulnerabilities.
“Traditionally, ‘mineral skills’ have been defined quite narrowly – generally as being engineering and geology related. But as we move into the future, the skills required to deal effectively with an increasingly complex world extend far beyond only engineering and geology.
“This is why adopting a broader and more holistic view of the skills needed to effectively grow and administer the minerals industry in Africa is vital. The modern minerals sector requires competency in areas such as strategic planning, law, finance, fiscal policy, environment, community affairs and human rights, to name but a few.”
AngloGold Ashanti, UNECA and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) share the view that adopting this broader definition will inspire new and innovative approaches to the challenging of building human capacity.
The idea being explored through the African Minerals Skills Initiative is building a partnership which involves public, private, and civil society organisations to create and support new solutions to the skills gaps identified in relation to the minerals industry and the opportunities for broad-based development this represents.
The Initiative also aims to be integrated with the African Mineral Development Centre which is currently being developed.
AngloGold Ashanti confirmed Tuesday that it will contribute US$ 1 million in 2013 as part of a broader five-year commitment towards the Centre.
That US$ 1 million will be earmarked for the integration of the African Mineral Skills Initiative in the Centre’s work going forward, to ensure that AMSI thrives and flourishes in the coming years.
According to a research study, jointly commissioned by AngloGold Ashanti, UNECA and AusAID, in Ghana, trained professionals are leaving Ghana to apply their skills in other West African countries, as well as Australia, Canada and South Africa.
In Guinea, the study shows that mining reform has been constrained by shortage of local experts in key areas such as taxation and community relations and other prominent skills gap include contract negotiations,
And in Mozambique, the country is experiencing a severe skills shortage for both government and mineral industry as a result of the rapid expansion of the minerals sector in recent years.