PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The secretary general for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has called on member States to accelerate the pace of developing a harmonised regional policy framework for the resources sector.
Sindiso Ngwenya told delegates at the Africa Downunder conference that the policy framework should be aligned with Comesa’s regional integration aspirations, as well as the tripartite free-trade agreement signed with the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“Guided by the directions provided by the [African Union's] African Mining Vision, the regional minerals policy framework would, among others, emphasise mining for development and socioeconomic transformation and would centre on expanding the role of forward, backward, lateral and knowledge linkages among Comesa member States,” he said.
He added that a key aspect of the harmonised environment would be optimising the fiscal frameworks through “appropriately configured taxation mechanisms”.
“The regional taxation framework, ideally based on resource rent taxation allowing for the efficient capture of the benefits of commodity price booms, would allow the region to collect optimal revenues for deployment towards other development objects, including investment in infrastructure and the creation of sovereign wealth funds and community development funds and trusts.”
Ngwenya stated that expertise from Australian companies, most notably those from Western Australia, would be required to bring this framework into action.
The Western Australian government and Comesa inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in January 2014, with the primary aim of improving the management of natural resources to allow them to contribute to growth and development in Africa.
Ngwenya noted that the MoU cemented the relationship between the state government and Comesa members and, while implementation of the MoU had been slow, owing to a lack of financing to support key initiatives, significant progress has been made towards the overall objectives.
“Under the MoU, the secretariat is working on profiling mineral beneficiation in the region and on developing a policy framework to cover the important areas of fiscal frameworks, sustainable mining development, corporate social responsibility, institutional strengthening and human skills development.”
Ngwenya put forward that, in learning from the achievements of the Western Australian minerals sector, Comesa would be able to create a transparent and accountable minerals sector, which was focused on addressing the continent’s diverse development challenges.