African governments still need to do far more to strengthen their cultures of governance, ethical and professional leadership. This was the message from Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo when he officially opened a breakfast meeting for the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business in Toronto, Canada, on Tuesday. The event formed part of the African Mining Breakfast and MineAfrica’s Annual Investing in African Mining Seminar, which is now in its 21st year.
“Strong governance structures and ethical conduct at all times amongst our front-line officials, senior executives and political leaders must become sacrosanct, if we are to succeed. The trouble with unethical leadership is that it erodes public trust. It undermines the mandate to govern that the electorate bestows on politicians. It also harms the businesses and the enterprises expected to operate in an environment where good governance is not adhered to. Indeed, our economies will grow much faster and sustainably only when we have dismantled and eliminated all regressive obstacles from doing business in Africa,” Alweendo told the annual gathering.
The mines and energy minister continued that Africa remains the poorest and most underdeveloped continent in the world.
“In order to raise the general level of prosperity for all citizens in the world, Africa must rise from its current shackles of inadequate sanitation, lack of housing, high unemployment and other social challenges. The mining fraternity has been a key partner in Africa’s development. It is incumbent upon all of us to leverage this historic partnership to usher in a new order of shared growth and shared prosperity,” said Alweendo.
He added that Africans are demanding better returns from the extraction of their mineral resources. These demands, Alweendo stated, are justified through the advancement in digital and social media platforms that Africans witness the lives of fellow global citizens and, therefore, want their standard of living to improve.
“As elected political representatives, we can no longer rely solely on political rhetoric and sloganeering to win elections. The African electorate is increasingly educated, worldly, understand and expect that elected political office bearers must provide the leadership that will enable smart investment that delivers win-win outcomes,” said Alweendo.
He also noted that future successful mining companies will be those that are able to reimagine their businesses to make a profit while serving and impacting society. Alweendo said, “Surely this will be the true attainment of a win-win outcome”.
Touching on Africa’s policies and politics, Alweendo said the two most topical current themes of global commerce, license to operate and sustainability, need to be addressed.
“In its broadest definition, licence to operate is beyond meeting the regulatory approvals and obtaining exploration licenses and mining licenses. Licence to operate is about presenting a manifesto to the communities and the people where you intend to mine, and that manifesto needs to showcase how you plan to make life better for them. This will include providing decent jobs, respecting local and community cultures and customs, as well as immersing yourself as a corporate member of that community and making a contribution to the broader advancement of that community,” said Alweendo.
Meanwhile, he explained that sustainability is a sub-point of licence to operate, and it boils down to the fact that miners cannot continue business as usual.
According to Alweendo, “Consumers around the world are vocal more than ever before. They are demanding a transparent ethical supply chain, as well as a lower carbon footprint. Our communities, too, are demanding that we extract minerals in a responsible manner, including being mindful of scarce resources such as water, the safety of employees on the operations, and ensuring a sustainable life for that community long after mining is finished. Your licence to operate will increasingly be determined by the degree to which you are able to demonstrate that you embrace these principles of sustainability”.
2020-03-05 07:19:26 | 4 months ago