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Driving Mining Policy Improvement Across West Africa

February 21, 2022

The Challenge

A mid-2000’s mining boom tested the governance limits for the eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA, in its French acronym).

As investment flowed into the region to develop mines, officials saw that the value created was too narrowly distributed. Authorities also identified a need to strengthen how they manage mining’s environmental and social impacts by addressing several issues, including mine closure, post-mining transition, gender inequality, climate change action, and local economic development.

Most UEMOA countries responded by setting out to reorganize their legal and regulatory frameworks to better capture benefits from the rapidly growing mining sector while minimizing its negative effects on people and the environment.

Despite progress made on mining governance over the years since the boom, persistent and newly arising issues continued to challenge public administrations in the region.

With its goal of supporting economic prosperity in the region, the UEMOA Commission understood that its member countries needed to build capacity and expertise to adequately regulate the sector to allow for responsible and inclusive growth.

The UEMOA Commission proceeded to enter into a cooperation agreement with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), which hosts the Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Mineral, Minerals and Sustainable Development (IGF). The parties agreed that the IGF would design and deliver technical assistance and capacity-building programs to meet the specific needs of the UEMOA member states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.

Our Role

The IGF’s work focused on supporting the UEMOA Commission on regional policy development. It helped build capacity for senior officials in public administrations in ministries responsible for mines, economy, finance, and the environment, as well as locally elected representatives and officials in the mining regions of the eight countries.

In 2016, the UEMOA Commission invited the IGF Secretariat to comment on the preliminary draft of its revised Community Mining Code, which was initially adopted in 2003 with the goal of improving regulations to ensure mineral exploitation provides optimal benefits across the eight member countries. The Commission tasked the IGF with verifying that the updated code addresses emerging issues in the mining sector and aligns with regional and international standards and good practices.

The IGF also worked to build capacity in the public administrations governing the mining sector by providing officials with a better understanding of the unique economic, legal, social, environmental, and technical issues surrounding effective oversight, management, and inspection.

Since 2015, the IGF Secretariat has trained more than 250 senior public officials from the region in 11 workshops on various themes based on the expressed needs of the participant countries.

These training events have most definitely highlighted some shortcomings in our [mining] sector and raised the need for regulations or policies to remedy them. This is what happened with the Local Content Strategy recently drawn up in Burkina Faso.

– Participant from Burkina Faso

IGF–UEMOA workshop photos

 

[The training] helped us to better understand certain subjects and challenges of the mining sector, such as mining taxation.

– Participant from Niger

IGF–UEMOA workshop details
Year Theme Participants
2015 Formulation and management of mining contracts and agreements 27
Mining taxation 28
2016 Conflict prevention, management, and dispute resolution 32
Environmental management and rehabilitation of mining sites at the end of operation 31
2017 Mining economics 31
Optimizing the participation of national economies in mining sector value chains 30
2018 Transfer pricing manipulation in the mining sector 29
2019 Management of community development in relation to the mining industry 28
2020 Force majeure cases arising in the mining sector due to COVID-19 22
Gender and mining governance 30
2021 Mines inspection (economic aspects) 25
Participants represented ministries of economy, environment, finance, and mining and included customs officials, economists, geologists, judges, lawyers, mining engineers, tax inspectors, and treasury officials.

 

Our Impact

The IGF’s recommendations regarding UEMOA’s updated Community Mining Code were favourably received. Indeed, the draft code includes the following provisions proposed by the Secretariat relating to:

  • Addressing transfer pricing and tax-base erosion
  • Obligations to present the financial models for mining projects
  • Limiting the scope and duration of tax stabilization schemes
  • Environmental management
  • Local content policies
  • Community development and related funding

The updated Community Mining Code was adopted by all eight UEMOA mining ministers in 2019. Ratification at the state level is pending.

Workshop participants have clearly expressed the value of the IGF’s capacity-building work, pointing out how it has influenced important policies and day-to-day proactive governing.

“After my in-service training … our mining law was being revised and we were able to redress the omission of rehabilitation and local content [from the draft legislation],” said one participant from Niger. “[The training] improved our knowledge on issues such as community development and the mining sector value chain. They helped us to better understand certain subjects and challenges of the mining sector, such as mining taxation.”

When delegates from Senegal returned home from the training on managing community development and the extractive industries, they set out to reform their laws to create a fund to increase revenue sharing.

In Burkina Faso, the government has launched an initiative to develop a national local content policy after officials became aware of important legislation gaps during an IGF workshop. One participant from Burkina Faso said, “These training events have most definitely highlighted some shortcomings in our [mining] sector and raised the need for regulations or policies to remedy them. This is what happened with the Local Content Strategy recently drawn up in Burkina Faso.”

When delegates from Senegal returned home from the training on managing community development and the extractive industries, they set out to reform their laws to create a fund to increase revenue sharing. It was incorporated into the Senegalese Mining Code of 2016.

“[It] made a significant contribution to the drafting of our national local content development strategy,” said a participant from Senegal. “The administration amended the mining code to consider local content, one of the flagship themes of the training. This also made it possible to draw up a specific law on local content with a view to the future exploitation of gas and oil.”

Officials from Togo attested to the value of IGF’s workshop covering legal issues arising in the wake of COVID-19 response measures. “Having a clear definition with precise criteria for the concepts of force majeure made it possible to anticipate and have an objective assessment of the various situations that subsequently arose. We received requests for suspensions of activity permits or payment of taxes due to force majeure. The ideas exchanged during the webinar were useful when it came to dealing with such requests,” said a participant from Faso.