By Special Correspondent, Kampala
TANZANIA’S governance of the mineral sector has won accolades across the East African region with member countries in the regional grouping- the East African Community (EAC),–promising to emulate the example.
Uganda’s Minister for Minerals Peter Lokeris on a visit of the gold-rich region of Geita this week could not hide his feelings, saying his government is persuaded by the impressive and inclusive development in Tanzania’s mineral sector.
“We assessed all East African nations and discovered that Tanzania offered the best learning ground because the country has made astounding strides in the policies, law and regulation in the minerals sector, enabling its people to benefit from their natural resources, particularly the small-scale miners,” the Ugandan minister asserted.
Mr Lokeris, accompanied by Ugandan senior government officials, geologists and a selective of small-scale miners, is on a four-day visit of Tanzania to get firsthand information on how best to govern his country’s mineral sector. The Ugandan delegation is being hosted by Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Minerals, Stanslaus Nyongo, government officials and members of the Commission of Minerals. Indeed, in many African countries small-scale miners are not recognized by the laws which exclude citizens with small capital to remain spectators, leaving foreigners harvesting and benefiting from the natural resources in their own lands.
According to Mr Lokeris, the Ugandan mineral sector is underdeveloped and absolutely new, and that is why “we’re pleased to come here to learn from Tanzania so that we can use your model to develop ours, hoping that one day we will be like you.” Tanzania’s bedrock for the achievements, according to minister Nyongo, is the new minerals law which recognizes the underground natural resources as endowed to the Tanzanians.
Since the new laws under came into operation in 2017, numerous small-scale miners that the law recognizes were empowered by the government and have benefited immensely from the resource. Under President John Magufuli’s resolute leadership, the government removed the burden of unnecessary levies to ease the operation of artisanal miners so that they could remain with a size-able disposable income. The removal of the heap of levies pushed down production costs, promoting compliance levels amongst the miners resulting into improved collection of government taxes and levies.
In curbing gold and diamond smuggling, the government established the East and Central Africa’s International Centre for Gold Market at Geita as a reliable market for the minerals that offers lucrative prices.
Natural resource-rich Tanzania is Africa’s fourth largest producer of gold before South Africa, Ghana and Mali. Since 2015 when President John Magufuli came to power, the contribution of minerals to the Gross Domestic Product has doubled and continues to rise.
The new mineral legislations in 2017 recognize the operations of small miners and in most gold mining towns, there is a clear evidence of how the commoners have benefited from the resource in terms of infrastructures and improved livelihoods, thanks to Dr Magufuli’s deliberate policies on transforming Tanzania.
It is because of the reforms that President Magufuli continues to implement across all sectors that many African countries have continued to visit Tanzania to learn the silent transformation on Tanzania’s development.
This is clear evidence that Tanzania is no longer in deep slumber as it has made a giant leap in every facet of national life. As President Magufuli said it in 2017 at a rally in his home village of Chato, “we must benefit from our God-given minerals and that is why we must safeguard our natural resource wealth to ensure we do not end up with empty mining pits.” The new mineral laws effect a win-win situation between the government and large-scale miners.
The law requires the government to own at least a 16 percent stake in mining projects. As a result, the country has continued to implement large scale economic projects in many sectors by using locally- mobilized resources. Delivery of social services in Tanzania continues to improve tremendously.
The government is installing quality infrastructure in health, transport, aviation, marine, improving supply of essential medicines, water and sanitation, free education and many more. The Harvard’s Centre for International Development (CID), in 2017 projected Tanzania as World’s fourth fastest growing economy.