Beatrice Mjomba grins from ear to ear as she shakes hands with the Kenya’s Deputy President, Hon William Ruto during the First Kenya Mining Forum on 28th September 2016 in Nairobi. The two day forum facilitated investment, learning and development of Kenya’s mining sector.
39 year old Beatrice is an artisanal miner at TaitaTaveta who mainly mines gemstones and sells them to any interested buyer locally. She is the sole breadwinner of her family of two. The Kenya Mining Forum brought together more than 200 participants from the mining sector to review investment opportunities which gave Beatrice high visibility at her stand during the market place.
Kenya is regional hub for trade in East Africa. UNEP 2013 characterized Kenya as an open, free, fair and highly competitive. “Kenya’s trade policy objectives currently focus on moving towards a more open trade regime, strengthening and increasing access to overseas and regional market for her products”
Kenya is very well known for gemstone mining, however small scale miners dominate this industry. Artisanal mining accounts for over 60% of annual gemstone production in Kenya, where women and youth play a major role in mining.
The mining sector in Africa offers an opportunity for equal economic growth for both governments and communities. The African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) conservatively estimate that there are more than eight million artisanal and small scale miners in Africa. According to the 2014 report “Encyclopedia of Gender and Mining: Key Initiatives, Best Practices and Actors” by GIZ, a key component of the mining sector – artisanal and small-scale mining – has a large female workforce estimated at between 40-50% in Africa. The World Bank in its Gender Dimensions of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining: A Rapid Assessment Toolkit, indicates that some African countries, such as the Ghana and Malawi, have more than 50% of women making up the artisanal and small-scale mining workforce.
“This is a very good forum as I want to hear more on government commitments to help us artisanal miners to link to the international market, as the way it is now, there is no structure” said Beatrice
The Ministry of Mining is working on regulations to govern artisanal and small scale miners in the country as the sector they faces many challenges including harassment from state officials, lack of structured markets, poor working environment, lack of proper mining tools, gender based violence, Local insurance companies do not have insurance policy to insure gems and lack of mining skills.
Early this year, Kenya enacted a new mining law to replace the existing one which has been in place since 1940. The law guides mining activities in Kenya. “The law will put the country on the path to being the most attractive destination for the minerals investment in Kenya” Said Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu.
Unlike the previous regulations, the new Legal and Regulatory Frameworks on Mining takes into account women and other vulnerable groups in the extractive value chain and proposes interventions that, when implemented, will present opportunities for women in mining.
“The next step is to ensure that the law is implemented in such a way that it promotes gender parity,” said UN Women Kenya Country Director, Ms Zebib Kavuma in her speech “Women are currently underrepresented in the sector. This is largely because they lack access to knowledge and finance required to operate in the sector”
Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, Sicily Kariuki noted the importance of investing in women “50%of miners are women, but the question is, are women sitting in the right spaces? It is important the conversation we are having is coherent to get to our destination faster and the impact is felt” Ms Sicilly further added that the government has the mandate to create an enabling environment for investors, able to employ more youths, and more so employ more women. “We are not safe until the rights of youths and women are taken care of.”
“In order for women to gain equal access to the economic opportunities brought about by the extractive industry, they must be recognized and involved specifically in the value chain of the extractive resources and community consultations. For this, women require access to understandable and comprehensive information, awareness raising and capacity building to enable them to hold their governments accountable and engage in consultative processes” said Ms. Zebib Kavuma in her remarks.
The consultations on the draft mining regulations are ongoing. The Ministry of Mining is organizing public consultations on the draft regulations to address all stakeholder’s concerns until end of October through the mining cadastre portal
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