The African Mineral Skills Initiative (AMSI) has been initiated to support the Africa Mining Vision by focusing on broad skills development in Africa in relation to the minerals sector.

The initiative is also to take a holistic view of skills and institution building for the minerals industry and to support the locally-owned delivery of skills and opportunities through selected African mining schools.

The formation of the skills initiative was announced at the Eighth African Development Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

It was founded by partners, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and gold-mining company AngloGold Ashanti.

Speaking at the forum, Richard Duffy, Executive Vice President for Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, emphasised the importance of the African Mining Vision as a clear and precise document that has brought a renewed energy and focus to the vital role that mining and minerals can play in helping Africa achieve its development goals.

“The mining sector in Africa is booming – and it needs skills,” said Duffy, “but the continent’s educational institutions are not currently in a position to meet this growing demand for a broad range of skills. To meet the needs of governments which need to regulate the mining sector, civil society which needs to offer an independent view of the sector, and the private sector which needs to grow and improve – a drastic increase in the number of African with ‘minerals skills’ is needed.”

Antonio Pedro, Director, ECA Eastern African Subregional office, said the skills initiative is a welcome development as partnerships are needed with the mining industry strengthen the human and institutional capacities in the African minerals sector. “Creating these capacities would strengthen Africa’s bargaining power, and this is something the Africa Minerals Development Centre, to be established by the African Union Commission, ECA and the African Development Bank would aim to see up-scaled,” he said. Africa needs to participate more effectively in the minerals value chain, said Pedro adding: “this would lead to inclusive growth and economic transformation that address vulnerabilities.

Traditionally, ‘mineral skills’ have been defined quite narrowly – generally as being engineering and geology related. But as we move into the future, the skills required to deal effectively with an increasingly complex world extend far beyond only engineering and geology. This is why adopting a broader and more holistic view of the skills needed to effectively grow and administer the minerals industry in Africa is vital. The modern minerals sector requires competency in areas such as strategic planning, law, finance, fiscal policy, environment, community affairs and human rights, to name but a few.

The African Mineral Skills Initiative also aims to be integrated with the African Mineral Development Centre which is currently being developed. AngloGold Ashanti confirmed today that the company will contribute US$ 1 million in 2013 as part of a broader five-year commitment towards the Centre. That US$1 million will be earmarked for the integration of the African Mineral Skills Initiative in the Centre’s work going forward, to ensure AMSI thrives and flourishes in the coming years.

ECA and AngloGold Ashanti welcome discussions with other stakeholders at the Africa Development Forum to explore support for the African Mineral Skills Initiative and its integration into the African Mineral Development Centre. For example, the Australian Government was the first partner to announce support for the Centre in August this year, committing A$5 million over the next two years to the Centre. Given this support, Australia’s substantial domestic experience in addressing mineral skills challenges and its significant existing work on skills development in Africa, the Australian Government, through its development agency, AusAID, supports the integration of the African Mineral Skills Initiative in the AMDC’s work going forward.

“We need to create a well-managed and efficient minerals industry that can transform finite natural resources and transient wealth into lasting development,” stated Duffy. “ECA and AngloGold Ashanti look forward to developing this exciting new initiative, and to supporting the realisation of the African Mining Vision by working together on AMSI.”