UNECA meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts of Southern Africa on “Making Natural Resources Work for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Southern Africa” Livingstone 13-14 March, 2014

Remarks by Martin Clemensson, UN Zambia Acting in the interim Resident Coordinator and Director of the ILO in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique

UNITED Nations Zambia Acting in the Interim Resident Coordinator Martin Clemensson says

despite the country and Africa having abundant natural resources in terms of minerals and wildlife, poverty has remained high.

Speaking during the 20th inter-governmental committee of experts (ICE) meeting in Livingstone

yesterday, Mr. Clemensson said there was also criticism in Zambia about the mining industry not contributing enough to the economic and social well-being of the people.

“In the political arena, concerns are often raised that too few jobs are being created by the companies and about reduced or limited support to social infrastructure,” Mr. Clemensson said.

He said mining companies claimed they were in business and that it was not their responsibility to build roads, clinics and schools, insisting the taxes they paid to Government should be used for such purposes.

Mr. Clemensson said because of such issues, there was a climate of mistrust among key actors in the sector that had impeded progress.

“As a result the situation is becoming increasingly tense with the possible result that mining companies may choose other locations than Zambia for their operations and all parties will lose out,” he said.

He said the UN in Zambia was engaging with the ministries of Mines and Labour, the chamber of commerce including and other stakeholders to facilitate dialogue between the mining sector and Government.

Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba said the natural resources the Southern African region had were of high quality and that they were on global demand.

Mr Yamba, however, said that the trans-boundary resources such as wildlife, water, forestry and fisheries required a regional approach to management.

He said there was need for stronger regional integration for collective exploitation and management.

“The vast natural resource endowments have enabled Southern Africa to become the epicenter of economic activity in Africa with a combined Gross Domestic Product in excess of US$7 billion, which is much higher than any other African region,” Mr Yamba said.

He said despite these developments, the natural resources-driven economic growth had been accompanied by high poverty levels and income inequalities in most countries in Southern Africa.

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