Extractive and Energy

Kenya counts on international mining forum to attract investors

Kenya, November 7, 2017 – Kenya is banking on the upcoming international mining forum to be held in Nairobi next month to attract investors.

The country will host the ‘Kenya Mining Forum’ between December 4-5, a premium annual mining investment event that showcases Kenya’s ‘open for business’ potential.

According to Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu, the forum will be a stakeholder-led gathering focused on a specific delegate profile with a distinct end goal – the search for credible investors in Kenya’s mining industry, as well as associated support services.

Supported by case studies and presentations, growth strategies and market data, the inaugural edition of Kenya Mining Forum will showcase the country as an emerging destination for mining, the CS said.

“This is an opportune time to promote investment in Kenya when we have done a number of reforms in the sector including the new Mining Act. We also have made processes more transparent so what we are saying now is that investors should come and invest,” mining CS Dan Kazungu told the Exchange in an interview.

The forum being hosted by the ministry in partnership with the Kenya Chamber of Mines is an early-to-market investment platform, bringing stakeholders together to facilitate investment and development of Kenya’s mining sector.

The East Africa financial power house is still in early exploration of its mineral potential, and has heavily been depending on tourism, agriculture and trade.

The mining sector has been contributing a mare one per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Kenya is currently closely working with McKinsey on a 20-year mining plan that has  already highlighted a potential of $ 62.4 billion ( about Ksh6.465 trillion ) mining revenues, contributing up to  10 per cent of the GDP by 2030.

“My plan is within two years, the top revenue earner for the country should not be coffee, tea and tourism. It should be mining,” Kazungu said.

He said the mining forum will provide a platform for stakeholders to share and present their policies setting in the region, with a targeted consistent platform for Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Kenya has a high mining potential and already ranks as the third largest producer of soda ash and the seventh producer of fluorspar in the world.

Metallic minerals currently produced in the country include titanium, gold and iron ore.

Commercial deposits of coal have been discovered in the north eastern region of the country and are currently under review for potential uses and production.

The coal deposits in Kitui are being billed as a source of cheaper energy to drive Vision 2030, the economic blueprint that aims to make Kenya an industrialised country in 20 years.

Mineral export statistics for Kenya indicate a constantly growing sector, with a major contribution by Australian mining company Base Titanium.

Located in East Africa, Kenya shares its borders with Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. It is considered a hub for financial, transportation and communications infrastructures in East Africa.

The government remains keen in growing the mining sector with a number of projects currently underway, among them a planned countrywide geophysical survey.

The Kenya Nationwide Airborne Geophysical Survey project is set to map the country’s minerals and natural resources.

The government has signed a Ksh7 billion loan agreement with the Exim Bank of China, to fund an airborne mapping project.

“This will enable us know the exact location of each minerals we have making it easier for investors to go straight to the sites,” Kazungu said.

The project is aimed at attracting more mineral investment into the country among other key benefits.

The ministry has also set up a mining cadastre (online license application system), currently undergoing a re-configuration to upgrading the system in tandem with the provisions of the Mining Act 2016.

The cadastre, a landmark project of the Ministry launched in 2015, seeks to facilitate access to online application of licences and permits for exploration and exploitation of minerals in accordance with the Act.

Once fully operationalized, cadastre is expected to improve governance and efficiency in the extractives industry in Kenya, and hence increase the investors’ confidence in Kenya as mining investment destination.

“The online system will also reduce the approval of mining licenses and permits from 120 to 90 days subject to recommendations of the Minerals Rights Board,” the CS said.

It will serve as a one-stop online information service centre for prospective investors where they can search and purchase spatial data and reports on the mining sector.

With further exploration and uptake of mineral rights, it is estimated that Kenya will have the capacity to position itself as a regional mining sector hub for Eastern Africa

The ministry is also pursuing international accreditation for mining certification for its laboratory in Kenya.

The laboratory will provide qualitative mineral analytical services, certify minerals, identify various precious and semiprecious minerals, carry out research on mineral analytical techniques, and provide assay and lapidary services.

“My hope is by the end of this year we shall be done with all the basics. From the next financial year, starting July 2018, the job of a mining minister will be going out to get investors, and they will be coming, plug in and play because the systems are up and running,” Kazungu said.

While Kenya may not be a the first choice for mining in the region (compared to Tanzania or Mozambique), its political and economic stability and role as a regional hub makes it an attractive non-high risk new mining to open up.

By Martin Mwita

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