Focus: the mining sector in Africa, what future?

Today in Africa, there is an economic sector that continues to contribute to the increase of investments on the continent, but also to improve their economic indicators such as exports, budgetary revenues and GDP: it is the mining sector. With projects that drive economic growth at an ever increasing pace, the African mining sector promotes policies and programs that are often innovative and strengthen governance and economic performance in the countries concerned. If the objective is to perpetuate economic performance, mines allow, apart from financial considerations, the creation of jobs, the development of infrastructures and the transfer of technology in their host countries. What are the prospects? Why should you consider working in the mining sector?

Useful information: Mining jobs in Africa

The evolution of the African mining economic sector since the early 2000s:

A key factor in community, national and sometimes regional development, the economic benefits of working in mining very often benefit women and other disadvantaged groups and yet maintain the community economy. The mining sector has, in fact, become an engine of economic development that allows recipient countries to attract more investment, especially since the early 2000s. In particular, it has allowed, in many African countries, budget recovery, better management and use of tax revenues from this sector, but also the elaboration of development strategies that put mining at the center of the shift towards the progressive industrialization of African countries. To better achieve this, legal and regulatory reforms in the mining sector, especially in Uganda, have allowed investors to ensure that environmental protection provisions are taken into account. Very often, countries go through five stages of transforming their mineral wealth into a sustainable development factor:

  • legislation, especially fiscal and investment attraction provisions
  • a clear and detailed regulatory framework
  • transparent and efficient collection of taxes and royalties
  • the rational disposal and management of budget revenues by public authorities;
  • social, economic and environmental development at the community and regional levels due to the value chain represented by the mining sector.

These are the stages that countries such as Tanzania, Madagascar and Uganda have gone through since the late 1990s. In the first country, for example, the development of the mining sector has enabled the amount of foreign direct investment to rise from 10 to 250 million dollars between 1999 and 2008. This development has even led the Tanzanian government to participate in the majority of projects in the sector since 2010. In Madagascar, an average of 12,000 jobs have been created each year at the national level in the sector since the mining reforms. In Uganda, the African Development Bank and the Nordic Development Fund invested $32 million to make the sector viable between 2004 and 2011. Over the same period, approximately $329 million was invested, and the income of artisanal miners increased from $4.81 to $7.50 per day, a 60% increase. On the social front, the Ugandan government received 590 health and safety plans from the miners between 2005 and 2013.

What prospects?

The World Bank alone has also invested more than $20 million in the Republic of Guinea, and $30 million in Cameroon, since 2014. Also in December 2012, it dedicated grants worth a total of $47 million. Why? Because the medium is proving to be more cost-effective than it might seem. Many countries continue to seek assistance in the early stages of mining sector reform (in developing policies and legislation to increase investment) because they are beginning to see strong economic benefits for local communities and improved governance at the national and sub-national levels. Today, the actions of political authorities in the sector are:

  • Strengthening community development foundations and agreements to promote sustainable development around mining communities;
  • Increasing the volume of orders placed with local companies by the mining industries;
  • Strengthening the capacity of local governments and civil society to manage and control the increased revenues generated by mining activity, as well as its environmental and social dimensions;
  • Designing and improving the effectiveness of mining sector tax regimes;
  • fostering collaboration between the public sector, the private sector, communities, and civil society organizations to improve the living conditions of artisanal miners and combat armed conflict;
  • leveraging private investment in infrastructure associated with natural resource exploitation for the benefit of populations and economic diversification.

Professionally, mining work most often seeks to work in collaboration with engineers and technologists in geology and mineralogy, but not only. In addition to the classic administrative positions, mining companies also recruit many machine maintenance operators, mechanics and drillers.   A key sector for the stronger growth of many African countries, the sector is now a source of a more efficient and better managed economic policy thanks to the strengthening of its institutional framework. It also fosters an attractive business environment, even if there is still a need for more structuring investments, particularly in the area of road infrastructure and in the energy sector. If you don’t know yet in which sector to look for a job in Africa, think about mining, as it is as promising as it needs to develop to convince. If you don’t know where to look, consider online co-option!



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About the Author: Paul Petersen