By David Mugabe
SOUTH African mining guru Bridgette Radebe has cautioned budding mining states like Uganda to create extractive industries that include and benefit local citizenry.
In a rousing key note presentation that sparked debate, Radebe one of the most successful African entrepreneurs asked African states to be resolute because economic exclusion of the majority is a recipe for disaster.
Radebe also president of the South African Mining Development Association said only then, can the potential be turned into all-inclusive wealth.
“There is no way we can be liberated unless we have economic ownership of what belongs to the people, create an economy that symbolizes true wealth of the local people even as we welcome FDI,” said Radebe speaking at the opening of the second Minerals Wealth Conference on Monday at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel.
The Chief Executive of Krone Uganda Amooti Isingoma explains to the President of the Mines and Petroleum chamber Elly Karuhanga (C) regarding the new mineral. Right is the Managing Director of Krone Uganda Rose Rugazora. Photo by Wilfred Sanya
Radebe also cautioned African leaders to put the country first and resist neo-colonialism and capitalist and exploitative policies of the extractive industry that has for centuries brought little benefit to Africa.
“We should not be apologetic in making sure that the strategic minerals that belong to us are used for the benefit of our country, that is what we did in South Africa,” said Radebe to a full house also graced by the South African High Commissioner, World Bank resident representative and Burundian and South Sudan minister and senior delegation.
Recounting the South African experience, Radebe cited the benefits of the reforms which have today led the sector to contribute to the economy ($49 billion or 19% of GDP), employing 1.35m or 16% of total employment and constituting 29% of the value of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (Africa’s largest stock market by value).
Radebe said the majority sentiment is that strategic minerals should not be foreign owned citing the example of the Canadian government that blocked BHP Billiton's $39 billion bid for Potash Corp, the world's biggest producer of a key crop nutrient, halting what had been the world's biggest takeover.
A cross section of participants attending the Mines and Petroleum conference. Photo by Wilfred Sanya
Radebe said serious thought should also be given to value addition by transforming the mining industry culture from exporters of mineral ores or semi-processed minerals to high value intermediate and finished products (Beneficiation).
Earlier, Elly Karuhanga, the president of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) hailed government’s efforts at improving infrastructure-a much needed ingredient for a booming extractive industry.
Karuhanga also called for the speeding up of the public private partnership (PPP) legislation that is now in parliament saying very little can be achieved without a PPP especially with the huge investments required for the sector.
City lawyer Denis Kusasira called on government to market the industry because the geology or presence of minerals has already been confirmed. Kusasira also asked for incentives for the industry especially withholding and value added tax reforms.