Frédéric Boyenga-Bofala
The End Of The Great Lakes Crisis

The creation of close cooperation between the Member
States of the Alliance in the joint operation and
management of common assets and natural resources:

The creation of a mining sector within the Alliance

The Great Lakes region has a wide range of mineral and energy resources, such as gas, oil and other major minerals, the intelligent and coordinated exploitation of which would enable the countries of the Alliance to enjoy rapid economic development. As examples - and this list is by no means exhaustive - there are nickel in Burundi, columbium niobium (columbium) in the DRC, while Uganda and Rwanda have cyclical reserves of it. There are tantalus, tin and tungsten in the DRC and Rwanda, while coltan is mainly found in the DRC.

And whereas it is desirable to encourage and support the revitalization of regional cooperation for the economic development of the Great Lakes in order to relaunch sub-regional economic activity, reconstruct areas devastated by a decade of war and silence all the squabbles over illegal exploitation and the plundering of resources, finally, in order to put an end to this crisis, I urge the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi to begin the joint exploitation and management of the shared natural resources of the Great Lakes within the framework of a regional integration process. This should be accomplished through an organisation open to the participation of all the Great Lakes states wishing to do so (see Part II).

In this context, the confederate Alliance of Great Lakes states (the Alliance) would examine, via a special meeting of the ministers responsible for mining within the respective Member States, a draft plan on the development of a model for close, regional cooperation within a regulatory framework governing the mining sector. This draft plan would form the basis for the harmonization of mining policies within the Alliance. The starting point of this process would be the adoption by each Member State of an Alliance Mining Protocol, which would be adopted in turn at the end of the Summit of Alliance Heads of State; the latter would follow the special meeting of ministers responsible for mining. This protocol on mining within the Alliance would in fact aim to create a dynamic mining sector capable of contributing to economic development, reduction of poverty and improvement of the general standard of living and quality of life as per the common objectives of the Alliance. For the purposes of this Protocol, the following principles would be applied:

Member States agree that the joint exploitation of natural resources will form the basis for cooperation for local development and will serve as a catalyst for economic transformation and social change in the member states of the Alliance;

In order to achieve these objectives, a mining sector will be created within the Alliance; whereas it is understood that a mining sector is defined as all extractive industries, including energy minerals and development industries up to the metal stage, provided they are integrated with a mine;

In order to ensure that the countries of the Alliance achieve optimal exploitation of their mineral resources and the best possible use of local labour, a High Authority for the coordination of mining within the Alliance will be created. Its purpose will be to develop a mining joint strategy for the Alliance. In this sense, so as to maximize the socio-economic impact of investments that will be made at all levels for this purpose, a series of discussion and consultation workshops will be conducted. These should also ensure proper integration of the mining sector within the economic development of the Alliance;

Member States will seek to harmonize policies, strategies and programmes related to national and regional development and the exploitation of mineral resources;

Member States will promote the development of disadvantaged states' economic power within the mining sector;

Member States agree that their governments and the Alliance will all improve the availability of public information to the private sector, Member States and other countries;

Member States will jointly undertake to develop and review internationally recognized standards of health and safety in mining and environmental protection.

A Strategic Mining Plan will constitute the operational document of the Mining Protocol and will be aimed at specific objectives, with which further, subsidiary objectives and a list of priority actions in the form of an implementation plan, will be linked. This plan will cover the following areas:

Mining Protocol - review of the following issues: institutional framework, policy harmonization, capacity and funding;

Information, geology, identification of common natural resources and assets - efficient production and dissemination of information;

Mining, mineral processing and marketing, promotion of investment in the sector;

The development of small gemstone mines and the establishment of a processing industry - it will be necessary to create an organization that would purchase minerals from small operators, from "diggers" at price levels comparable to those prevailing on the world market, the implementation of small-scale mining and the creation of related industries in the countries of the Alliance - support to be provided to the development of this sub-sector in the region;

Development of human and technology resources - skills development and technology, environmental protection - environmental standards and initiatives, integration of gender issues in the mining sector - assistance to the active participation of women in this sector;

The acquisition and operation of mining concessions located in the territory of a Member State by a national of another member state of the Alliance in the context of free movement and the right of establishment within the Alliance.

The presence of valuable mineral resources in the subsoil of our countries would thus enable the creation of a significant revenue stream. This, in turn, would enable the Alliance to fund its own economic and social development. I invite the member states of the Alliance to work together to make the joint exploitation of our common assets and natural resources a genuine engine for development; whereby this would be accomplished by means of a trickle-down effect on other economic sectors (roads, rail; tertiary infrastructure; regional agriculture, development of local energy resources). Similarly, I think the creation of centres of mining development in economically depressed areas with high geological potential would enable the localisation of basic industries (primary ore) in the immediate vicinity of operating sites; thus enabling Alliance Member States to significantly increase the value added of the products they export. Finally, the mining and energy sector will help diversify local economic activities, provide raw materials for local industry, contribute to regional development and the improvement of physical infrastructure, create employment opportunities for all levels and promote the acquisition of technology. In this area the Alliance must establish a smart partnership between Member States and a number of friendly industrialized countries for the exploitation of certain highly strategic minerals recently discovered in our subsoil. A forward-looking vision and mining policy would thus be the essential feature of a development strategy for our Alliance.