Africa DownUnder Conference kicks off today

The Africa DownUnder Conference commenced this morning in Perth Australia. Paydirt has been hosting the Africa Down Under Conference for over 10 years now. African government ministers and various officials including those from Ghana, Ethiopia, DRC, Senegal, South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe are expected address the conference.

Zimbabwean Deputy Mines Minister, Fred Moyo is attending the Africa DownUnder Conference and is scheduled to speak this Friday afternoon. He did confirm that he was at the conference to explain Zimbabwe’s position on mining and clarify some of the issues surrounding the Indigenisation Act.

The Premier of Western Australia (WA) and State Development Minister, Colin Barnett officially opened the three-day conference this morning. From his address, it was clear that Africa is an important market for Western Australian goods and services.

“With our long history of responsible resources development, WA is well placed to assist African countries to develop transparent, stable and mutually beneficial regulations for their resources sector,” Mr Barnett said.

The first African speaker today was Dr Toni Aubynn, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Minerals Commission, who made a passionate and well-received plea for Australian investors to consider Ghana as a destination for their mining investments.

Other speakers included Resolute Mining Chief Executive Officer, Mr John Welborn. John Welborn, the recently appointed CEO, reminded the audience about the development of Chinese cities from 1978 to the present day.

“Take that same scenario to Africa and by 2040, Africa is projected to have more than one point one billion people of working age,” Mr Welborn said.

“The challenges that pose specifically for Africa are energy, skilled workers, infrastructure, access to capital, political stability, social licence to operate and productivity issues.

“What the mining industry can do to deliver a better Africa is to attract capital and international finance, ensure transparent negotiations and mining agreements, create jobs and skills, support local industry, build and transfer infrastructure, pay taxes and support a framework for economic advancement.”

Resolute Mining has mining interests in Ghana, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire.

COMESA Secretary General, Sindiso Ngwenya indicated that on the 31 January 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between COMESA and the Western Australia Government was signed. The MoU was signed to assist in ‘improving the management of natural resources’ within the COMESA region so that this could contribute sustainable socio-economic growth.

According to the Western Australian Government website, ‘the MoU with COMESA aims to promote co-operation in the fields of agriculture, mineral and petroleum resources, vocational education and capacity building’.

The Africa DownUnder Conference continued throughout the day with various speakers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a panel discussion of Australian High Commissioners in Africa, State Minister of Mines from Ethiopia and various mining industry players.