WINDHOEK: The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has called on the Ministry of Mines and Energy to review the awarding of mining and exploration licences to parties wanting to invest in the country’s mining sector.
The call forms part of a number of recommendations made by the IPPR in its latest anti-corruption research programme publication with regards to the process involved in the ministry’s awarding of mining and exploration licences.
The publication, titled ‘On a Slippery Slope: Corruption and the Extractive Industries in Namibia’, notes that the mining sector in Namibia has always been a crucial, if not the most significant, source of revenue, through tax and royalties, to the State.
“With oil and gas prospecting and exploration activities, as well as mine development – notably in the uranium sector – having picked up considerably since the turn of the century, indications are that the extractive sector’s share of revenue flows to the State will balloon as well, especially if commercially viable deposits are struck,” the publication notes.
It however cautioned that the potential discovery of offshore oil could be a double-edged sword for the country as already, “a coterie of politically well-connected individuals and interests are jockeying to get a slice of the eventual pie if the oil starts flowing”.
It notes that over the last five years, “irregularities in the issuing and subsequent trade in exploration licences for off-shore drilling blocks have started to raise concerns that, without a drop of oil having been pumped yet, the sector is already considerably compromised by corruption”.
The IPPR thus called on the ministry to make its decision-making processes in the rewarding of such licences more transparent, and recommended that it avoid entering into secret mining and exploration contracts with both local and foreign mining companies.
“The Ministry of Mines and Energy should put appropriate mechanisms, including specific and comprehensive codes of conduct, in place to monitor the dealings of licence authorising offices and structures in order to help protect the integrity of these offices and structures,” IPPR Senior Researcher Frederico Links said at the official launching of the publication here on Friday.
In the publication, the institute through the Ministry of Mines and Energy appealed to the Namibian Government to finalise black economic empowerment legislative and policy frameworks with regard to the awarding of mining and exploration licences in the country.
“The Chamber of Mines in Namibia should continue to advocate for the Namibian Government to move towards the finalisation of black economic empowerment and other related empowerment mechanisms in order to dispel the uncertainty in the awarding process of mining and exploration licences in the country’s mining sector,” Links explained.
According to the IPPR researcher, civil society organisations should also push for the installation of proper mechanisms that would ensure greater transparency in the ministry’s decision-making process in the awarding of licences in the mining sector.
The IPPR is a not-for-profit organisation with a mission to deliver independent, analytical, critical, yet constructive, research on social, political and economic issues that affect development in Namibia.