Kenya is coming under increasing pressure to review its mining laws after the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) adopted a report that calls for the code to be aligned to a continent-wide initiative.
The Report on Governance of Natural Resources, drafted in Nairobi last month by the EALA Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources, said weak and parallel legislation were undermining transparent exploitation of resources.
The assembly calls for the establishment of an institutional mechanism by the EAC Secretariat to tighten mining regimes.
The parliament wants member states to develop human resources capacity for contract negotiations with multinationals, revenue collection and to enhance skill transfer in the extractive sector.
The five EAC countries — Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi should also align their mining policies to the Africa Mining Vision 2050 (AMV) adopted by African Union heads of State summit three years ago.
“EALA urges partner States to invest more revenues accrued from natural resources in social infrastructures and other strategic investments that will promote economic growth and sustainable development for the region,” the report says.
Under the Mining Vision, the continent seeks to reap maximum tax revenues, boost transparency and to integrate mining into development policies to fight poverty at community, national and regional levels.
Kenya is already under pressure from industry players to upgrade its mining laws but a new Mining Bill is yet to be approved by the cabinet.
The Bill seeks to force multinationals to inject 25 per cent of the mining revenues to county governments (20 per cent) and community projects (five per cent).
“In the absence of a clear legal framework that defines how revenues should be shared, activists have had free hand setting up communities against mining firms,” said Kenya Chamber of Mines chief executive officer Monica Gichuhi.
Minerals like soda ash, fluorspar, salt, diatomite, gold and gemstones fetched Kenya Sh18.3 billion in 2011.
At its full council meeting held late last year, the National Economic and Social Council called for training of communities on mining in order to improve their benefits that accrue to them from the sector.
Just like the AMV, the council sees an enlightened citizenry as one step towards communities bargaining for a large share of proceeds from mining as well as forging harmonious relations with the multinational companies.