Editorial: Mineral wealth must trickle down to the communities, and faster

Editorial: Mineral wealth must trickle down to the communities, and faster
Editorial: Mineral wealth must trickle down to the communities, and faster

Africa-PressRwanda. Parliament has asked government to expedite the implementation of its proposal compelling mining firms to share 10% of their revenues with communities that live near mining sites.

This proposed policy is significant for various reason. However, it is now four years since it was first mooted by the cabinet in 2016. No implementation plan in sight.

There’s need for a sense of urgency towards the implementation of this policy.

Mining is Rwanda’s largest export revenue earner, after tourism. The sector has an estimated 100 artisanal and small-scale mining operators who employ between 34,000 and 77,000 workers.

Yet, mining firms often leave wide-ranging social and environmental scars in communities where they operate. We have had cases of collapsed mines killing people. Globally, the impact of bad mining practices on agriculture, particularly in poor rural areas, are well documented.

In the wake of the mining boom, it is critical to consider how mineral wealth is used to foster development in rural communities.

Of course, one of the solutions is to spend a portion of mineral wealth on development projects in communities surrounding mining sites.

As mining firms push for concessions in mineral-rich rural areas, they ought to improve the lives of people who live there.

They also should improve their community outreach initiatives and set up funds for local residents.

We know that the sector also faces significant challenges and is undergoing reforms.

And the government is looking at mining to drive the country’s economic recovery in the medium term. Equally, the government is trying to figure out what new measures can be put in place to have additional momentum in the sector to increase productivity.

We understand the government is in the process of identifying the “poorest” districts, yet produce a lot of minerals, where it can implement development projects using proceeds from mining activities.

Moreover, building good relationships with local communities, most impacted by mining operations will go a long to improve the image of mining in society.

It will inspire sustainable mining projects that are critical for boosting profits. In the end, we all benefit.


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