The president of the Bridge Tank, Joël Ruet, was invited as a keynote speaker at a dinner-debate on the topic « The Challenges of Mineral Resource Management » in Dakar, Senegal on the 30th of September. The purpose of this evening was the launching of the Network of Parliamentarians for Management of Mineral Resources in West Africa (RGM).
This network already existed on the national level (Network of Parliamentarians for Management of Natural Resources in Senegal), but the realisation that multiple countries shared a common issue drove the creation of a regional network. It aims to gather the parliamentarians of ECOWAS member countries in order to reflect on the harmonisation of legislation on the regional level and on the management of mineral resources in the area. West Africa actually has particularly rich natural resource potential: gold, phosphate, iron, marble, zircon, ilmenite, petroleum, gas, and uranium. This is a considerable lever for growth, but public management and effective and efficient reforms are necessary.
The dinner of September 30th brought together parliamentarians from West Africa and Senegal in particular, mining and oil companies, but also NGOs, members of civil society and journalists to debate on the management of mineral resources. Joël Ruet was among the speakers and emphasized three aspects of the topic:
-When it comes to the mining cycle and its regulation, we should not only foster license transparency, which is the objective of the network, but also think ahead to the execution clauses and link them to license renewal. It’s also important to think about securing resource deposits- making property more accessible and supporting the financing of exploration-development by separating property/management responsibility from financing. He specified that the model of public-private partnerships could be helpful.
-On the regional level, it’s crucial to foresee the consortium of reserves and deposits as well as the priority development of optimal deposits and redistribution mechanisms to avoid the problem of overcapacity or of exposure to market volatility.
-Globally, it’s imperative to take into consideration that numerous « markets » are actually oligopolies or oligopsonies, and therefore envision not the profitability of the market but rather long-term strategic industrial partnerships. Once again the transparency and the network are prerequisites.
Finally, he emphasized that the recent discovery of gas in Senegal, combined with the presence of phosphate, could render the local transformation of fertilizer viable. This would complement the policy of food autonomy implemented in the Emerging Senegal Plan (PSE).