Enhanced legal capacity essential for successful negotiations in the mining sector

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The Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda, Ruhakana Rugunda, lauded the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) for conducting a capacity-building training programme to equip government officials with the skills needed to negotiate favourable mining agreements. He reiterated the need for strengthened human capacity that is critical to facilitate Government’s efforts to maximize benefits from the extraction of natural resources in the mining sector.

He was speaking at the closing ceremony of the Mineral Wealth Conference on October 2 in Kampala, Uganda, where the ALSF conducted a five-day training from September 28 to October 2. 

Government representatives consisting of regulators, private and public lawyers and professional services practitioners from different line ministries attended the training.

The topics covered included understanding mineral rights, land access and mine development; environmental and social issues; regulatory impact assessments; the anatomy of mining agreements; and the negotiation of mining agreements.

According to Tongayi Masvikwa, Legal Counsel at the African Legal Support Facility, the workshop was designed to breakdown the anatomy of mining agreements and focus on the negotiable aspects of such agreements.

He added that the aim is to build the legal capacity of senior representatives of state ministries and other institutions involved in the negotiation of mining agreements.

Speaking to participants at the workshop, Zweli Mkhize, Treasurer General of the African National Conference, stated that the challenge for African Governments is to look for ways to better manage the resources that exist on the continent. “How do we build strong and competent institutions and how do we create capable professional expertise within those institutions to build and boost economic growth on the continent?” he queried.

Elly Karuhanga, Chairman of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, emphasised that agreements in the extractives sector require competence in negotiating concessions that are of benefit to African Governments. “We need a win-win situation where Government and the private sector benefit from their investment,” he said. 

Outlining the ALSF’s objectives, Masvikwa stated that the current interventions of the African Legal Support Facility aim to help bridge the gaps in legal capabilities thereby leveling the negotiating playing field to further the economic development of African States. He explained that the anticipated impact of the capacity-building program is an increase in the ability of the Government to protect its legal rights and maximize the development impact of the mining agreements it enters into.