Namibia’s responsible and sustainable mining policies attract investor attention

By Angelique Peake

“Responsible mining, sustainable returns.”

Environmental and social practices in the mining industry have undergone an evolution over the past two decades. Mining companies are no longer required just to make a profit and mitigate risk, but now also need to deliver a high level of environmental and social performance. Namibian mining is one of the industry frontrunners in these sustainable practices and can proudly boast an existing platform of stakeholder engagement, environmental stewardship and community investment – all encompassed in the Namibian Government’s Action Plan towards Prosperity for All – the Harambee Prosperity Plan.

Though the profit motive remains important to investment, other key drivers for stakeholders in the industry include increased moral responsibility, transparency and sustainability.  While this requires a sound regulatory environment and policy stability, which is presently rather challenging in Namibia, this subject is a long-term goal shared by the Namibian  government in its Harambee plan and hence provides one major reason why Namibia is and will continue to be an attractive country in which to invest.

Despite the fact that administrative challenges and delays on licenses could be driving away investors looking for more stable jurisdictions in which to operate, the Harambee Prosperity Plan is laying the ground for attaining prosperity in Namibia by accelerating development in clearly defined priority areas. It complements the long-term goal of the National Development Plans and Vision 2030, and introduces an element of flexibility in the Namibian planning system by fast tracking development in areas where progress is insufficient.

The Harambee plan addresses the premise that development must meet the needs of the present without compromising the future – eradicating poverty and protecting the environment are the greatest global challenges, and are necessary for sustainable development. Countries that already have a healthy track record of such behaviour in the mining industry, and where governments are actively driving this conduct among their investors, are already and will increasingly become attractive countries to invest in.

The need for access to information and communication, and the need to find solutions jointly in mitigating conflict between communities and mining houses is becoming front of mind for major players. Natural resources are economically important to communities and businesses so a well-governed, responsibly managed natural resource sector can be an important driver of broad-based sustainable and inclusive economic growth, poverty reduction, and a source of public revenue in developing countries such as Namibia.

It remains important that the mining industry continues to assist Namibia in building effective governance systems by strengthening national, regional, and local governments and regulatory institutions to manage their extractives sector in a transparent and responsible manner. Namibian mines, through the Mining Charter, are already improving local economic development through diversification of economic opportunities and support for local businesses. They are enabling communities to maximize benefits from the extractive sector to promote inclusive growth and community empowerment, including through training and skills development.

Trust needs to be created between mining companies and communities, and while this sounds straightforward, it can be quite a process in countries that have not made this part of their DNA already.

Namibia already promotes collaboration – it  is driven by a firm belief that all stakeholders need to work together for responsible resource development. With the government driving the Harambee Action Plan and the private sector already actively engaged in partnering mining houses to achieve transparency and sustainability, Namibia should be a perfect fit for those global players that have found themselves striving ‘to do the right thing, and do things right’.

RMB Namibia, a division of FNB Namibia Limited, is a leading African corporate and investment bank and part of one of the largest financial services groups in Africa – the FirstRand Group. We offer our Namibian clients a comprehensive suite of corporate and investment banking products and services, including banking, advisory, finance and trading solutions and investment opportunities. Please visit http://www.rmb.com.na for more information or contact 061 299 8101.

April 2017
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