This year’s keynote address by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) head of global mining Tom Butler at the annual Investing in African Mining Indaba aims to tackle issues and opportunities relating to the economic impact of mining on the African economy.
Butler leads the IFC’s investment activities in mining exploration and development and, along with his team, oversees a $500-million debt and equity portfolio that covers 37 projects in over 25 countries.
Drawing on this expertise, Butler says that while Africa’s three primary challenges – creating benefits for local communities, the governance of controversial mining legislation and policies and the lack of infrastructure – are not under the direct control of companies, commercial institutions can play a positive role in assisting governments in addressing these.
“As a development institution and investor, the IFC believes that mining can contribute to development in Africa. Today, in the midst of a sustained boom in prices and investments that are generating major benefits to countries throughout Africa, this is more apparent than ever,” he says.
Butler reiterates that if mining in Africa is to deliver on its full potential as a development and poverty-reducing force, certain challenges need to be met.
He asserts that meeting these challenges is fundamental to companies acquiring a social licence to operate and gaining access to required financing.
Butler says that his speech will draw on the IFC’s global experience in, and perspective gained from, helping companies to address mining and economic challenges.
Investing in Africa
Late last, year the IFC reported that it had signed an agreement with public- and private-sector partners in Ghana to support the growth of businesses working in the country’s mining industry, a major contributor to jobs and economic development.
This collaboration between the IFC, Ghana’s Chamber of Mines and the Ghanaian government’s Minerals Com-mission aims to design and implement a local supplier development programme to build the expertise of local businesses working in the mining industry’s supply chains, and promote Ghana as a leading African destination for mining investment.
“Mining firms operating in Ghana are committed to supporting the development of a programme to improve the capacity of local manufacturers of products and providers of services to create competitive Ghanaian suppliers. The country has a large, well- established mining sector which provides jobs and government revenues and has significant opportunities for local businesses to become suppliers to the mining firms,” said Ghana Chamber of Mines CEO Joyce Aryee.
The initiative was recognised by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply as a top small- to medium-sized enterprise linkages project.
Butler’s Contribution to the IFC
After joining the IFC in 1997, Butler has focused primarily on financing Africa- and Latin America-based oil, gas and mining projects.
Butler also spent five years in the IFC’s infrastructure development department, financing projects, such as airports, shipping and power companies, while being based in Africa for three of those years.
He has a degree in engineering from Cambridge University, in the UK, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires in France.
Butler was appointed to his current position in March last year and is based in Washington, in the US.