What are the key priorities for the Ministry of Mining with regards to the mining sector in the country?
The government’s immediate priority is to ensure that we have an adequate policy framework, legislation and fiscal regime in place in order to facilitate the development of the mining sector in Kenya. At the moment mining represents only 1% of GDP, and we expect to see a significant increase in the next decade.
What steps is the government taking to promote Kenya to potential investors in the mining sector?
We are currently working on a strategy to attract international investment and grow Kenya’s mining sector. We want mining to become a pivotal industry in the country and one of the strongest in the region. Within our 20-year plan, we propose a number of changes in order to make this sector more attractive. Because we are competing with other regions and markets, we need to ensure our strategy is up to speed. We are therefore engaging professional institutions to help us create win-win scenarios for investors, the government and local communities.
In May 2016 a new Mining Law was approved by the Parliament. Could you elaborate on the significance of this legislation?
The Mining Act of 2016 is the first piece of mining legislation in independent Kenya. With this new act we move away from the Mining Act of 1940 to a living document with the potential to adapt and amend according to arising challenges. Kenyan mining law is the most progressive mining law in the whole of Africa. Additionally, this code aligns itself with three very important laws and policies. Firstly, the law aligns itself with the African mining vision. Secondly, it aligns itself with Kenya’s Constitution, which was passed on in 2010. Lastly, it fits within Kenya’s vision for development of the country – Vision 2030.
Kenya, with a very short history of mining, remains a largely unexplored country. What initiatives is the government implementing to bridge the information gap and provide access to geological data?
It is of utmost importance to have credible data on our mineral deposits. The Kenyan government launched a project called ‘Project Tai’, with ‘Tai’ meaning ‘eagle’ in Swahili. The aim of the project is to conduct a national airborne geological survey, in which we will use airplanes to scan for minerals both inland and off shore. We budgeted approximately $3 billion USD for this project, and are considering increasing this amount as we believe in the importance of this project.
The project is set to begin before December 2016, and we have a team of 16 top geologists in the country to do the job. In order to ensure that the results are precise and relevant to potential investors, we are also looking to invite international specialists to help us carry out the survey. Moreover, we are working together with the British Geological Survey (BGS), who have access to previously collected geological data from Kenya. These files will be handed over to the ministry and added to the database.
What training is available to Kenyans looking to join the mining sector?
We are aware that we need to focus on developing human capacity and build our own educational and training institutions to support the mining sector as a whole. We are currently relying heavily on South African, Australian and Canadian professionals to take up the strategic roles within the sector. Naturally, we would like to see more Kenyans taking up important roles in the mining industry.
We want to re-structure the Institute of Geological Sciences, part of the University of Nairobi, into the National Institute of Mining. In addition, we plan to focus on TAITA TAVETA University College, which has received a lot of support from German universities, and we expect it to become the next center of excellence for human resources in mining, educating mining engineers, designers, geologists, economists, and so on.
We are also working to develop practical technical training courses on mining in Technical Training Institutes (TTIs) established in mining counties, to raise the capacity for local technical expertise.
Kenya has put a bid to host the African Union (AU) African Mineral Development Centre to position itself as a pan African Centre for mining policy training on mining across the continent.
What is your final message to the potential investors?
The Kenyan Ministry of Mining strongly believes that, with the right strategy in place, along with proper regulatory and legal frameworks, easy access to geological data, skilled professionals, and an institutional fiscal regime that is both competitive and attractive, the mining industry will show solid development and growth. According to Kenya’s constitution, mineral wealth should benefit Kenyans, and we strongly believe that our strategy should embrace this message.
We want to encourage investors to come to Kenya, and are looking for responsible mining companies in particular. We want to build relationships and help these companies set up and develop their operations in Kenya. Kenya’s journey is only in its beginning stages, but we believe that we will reach our goals and turn mining into a booming industry in the country.