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Govt pledges transparency in mineral exploitation

07 November 2014, 09:19

Nairobi - The government on Thursday promised to ensure transparency and accountability in mineral exploitation to avert a situation where some investors benefit at the expense of others.

Deputy President William Ruto said the government was committed to the development of the mining sector which has attracted both local and international investors.

Ruto told Geo-East Africa Conference and Expo (GEOEACE 2014) in Nairobi that 22.4 million U.S. dollars has been set aside as wider strategy to increase economic growth through exploitation of resources to help the country achieve the goals set out in Vision 2030.

"There should be accountability and transparency framework to ensure nobody benefits unfairly over others in exploration and exploitation of mineral resources," he said.

Kenya has in the recent past discovered several precious minerals, including rare earths and oil, making the previously inactive mining sector to be identified as one of the economic drivers when production of that resource starts.

Ruto, however, said the government will give priority to local investors in all development projects in the country, adding that the interest of Kenyans must be protected in the exploitation of natural resources so long as they have the capacity and knowledge to carry out such investments.

Also read: Balala condemned for revoking mining permits

"I want to confirm that we are obligated by the constitution to give first chance of investments to Kenyans and to others thereafter, so long as they have the knowledge and capacity to carry out exploration and exploitation of our natural resources," he said.

The East African nation has given priority to the review of laws and regulations in the mining industry in order to make sure that the sector contributes effectively to the economic growth.

Ruto said Parliament has approved Mining Bill to help guide the exploitation of minerals in the country following the discovering of mineral resources in the East African nation.

He stressed that the Bill seeks to facilitate the establishment of a vibrant minerals and mining sector to avoid the pitfalls of other mineral rich countries where they have caused environmental degradation, conflict and social decay.

Ruto urged the private sector to take advantage of the government's commitment to developing the sector.

"Once investors come forward and say this is what ours, there will be no need for regulator to give it to outsiders. Our investors should get out of small thinking and think big," he said.

Kenya has a huge mineral potential, but its exploration efforts have only picked in the last 6 years with the awarding of commercial licences in prospecting for oil, gold, coal, geothermal and rare earths.

The East African nation intends to create a robust legal and policy environment to promote the mining sector.

Analysts say mineral industry in Kenya cannot therefore develop until laws are revised and the government can guarantee secure title of minerals and the required surface rights.

 - Xinhua

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