Seabed mining experts convened earlier this month in Kampala, Uganda, to explore the potential of marine mineral resources contributing to Africa’s development goals.
“This workshop on the marine mineral resources of Africa’s continental shelf and the adjacent international seabed area is unique, and it is also the first time that we are discussing marine mineral resources in a landlocked country,” said International Seabed Authority (ISA) secretary-general Michael Lodge in his opening remarks.
He noted that the workshop exemplified the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which highlights that marine resources belong to all as a common heritage to mankind, “and least-developed countries and landlocked States have access to these resources and benefit from them”.
The event was the first of its kind and was organised by the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), the government of Uganda, the ISA, Norwegian environment-focused nonprofit organisation GRID-Arendal and US-based nonprofit organisation The PEW Charitable Trust.
The initiative brought key stakeholders and global experts in marine mineral resources together to strategise future partnerships and activities that will harness the resources of the continent’s maritime areas, which cover 20-million square kilometres.
Among the topics discussed were the relevance of marine resources on the global development agenda, particularly the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14, which calls for the conservation and sustainable use of the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources.
The AMDC and the ISA support the implementation of the Africa Mining Vision (AMV), which seeks to reform and transform Africa’s mining sector. As such, the AMDC sees this workshop as a key component to bring the AMV to fruition, as the centre is aligned with the visions’ aim of harnessing the continent’s mineral resources for socioeconomic transformation.
The workshop raised interest and encouraged engagement among African States, as well as interest in developing partnerships for prospecting, exploration and exploitation activities in the African continental shelf and in the adjacent international seabed area.
Other important initiatives that were discussed during the workshop included strengthening the African legal framework to support the sustainable development of its maritime domain and blue economy.
Promotion of the production, management and dissemination of geological and mineral information and how to create spatial data infrastructure to support decision-making, investment and governance of Africa-based seabed activities were also highlighted.
Further, the workshop delved into establishing centres of excellence in Africa to provide governments with increased access to marine geoscientific information.
The workshop also identified potential public–private partnerships to enable African companies and government agencies to develop plans to explore the coastal areas for potential mineral exploitation.