EADB director-general, Vivienne Yeda, said the discovery and ongoing exploration of various minerals in the region have raised the expectation of host communities and governments that resource extraction will result in wealth creation and reduced budget deficits, and improve the conditions of the local people.
“It is critical that host countries are able to derive tangible benefits from the exploitation of their natural resources,” Yeda told a regional seminar for judges from East Africa region, which ended in Nairobi on Sunday.
“The benefits should accrue to the local communities in the form of appropriate royalties, taxes, dividends, business opportunities, professional jobs and employment for skilled labour,” she added.
Yeda said that there should be a clear benefit to the country, commensurate with the amount of resources derived for the country. In order to achieve this, taxes and other fiscal rates, environmental and social management in Africa should be comparable to those prevailing in advanced economies, she added.
The seminar, which was organised by EADB, was designed for judges from the East African region involved in arbitrating transactions and settlement of disputes in the extractive sectors.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the seminar, Kenyan Attorney-General Githu Muigai asked public sector lawyers in the region to ensure that resource wealth brings East Africa long-term and sustainable economic development through preventing resource dependence and encouraging economic diversification.
This, Muigai said, will encourage job creation despite the sector’s capital-intensive nature, by minimising environmental degradation and by allowing for the benefits to accrue even after depletion of resources.
“The governments in the general East African region are increasingly putting in place legal and regulatory mechanisms to support the investments in the extractives sector,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Solicitor-General Christine Agimba.
“This includes reviewing of outdated legislation and the enactment of new laws as well as other mechanisms to improve the investment climate and enhance the ease of doing business,” Muigai added.
He said the rise of exploration activities has also seen a rise in litigation both before Kenyan courts and internationally, in forums like the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, and these called for a closer examination of how disputes are resolved.