“Mining is the driving force behind economic development in Zambia, hence the importance of partnerships and collaborations.” These were the opening remarks from keynote speaker the Honorable Christopher Yaluma, Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development, as he spoke at the official launch of the Zambia Mining for Development (ZAM4D) Alumni Association. Mr Yaluma also encouraged Alumni to approach him with innovative ideas to ensure that benefits are seen in communities and to make the government accountable for its mining practices in the country.
Seventy invited guests gathered in Lusaka, Zambia, on 2 December to celebrate the launch of ZAM4D and participate in their first Alumni Day under the theme Partnering to harness mineral wealth for enhanced socio-economic development in Zambia. ZAM4D is an interest group of Alumni that have come together with the objective of “locally carrying on and spearheading the implementation of good practice in mineral resources mining governance and exploitation for inclusive sustainable development in Zambia.”
Alumni in attendance were recipients of awards administered by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through various programs, including the International Mining for Development Centre (IM4DC), Australia Awards and Australia-Africa Partnerships Facility (AAPF).
The day provided a platform for Alumni to network with each other, exchange ideas, receive input on future capacity-building priorities, contribute towards good practices in mining, and discuss the potential for a Zambian Country Mining Vision, among other matters.
The event had two Alumni panels: one panel reporting on IM4DC-supported activities in Zambia, and another panel focusing on the work ZAM4D would be involved in. There were 11 presentations to complement these panels, where Alumni were able to showcase the outcomes of their return to work projects. Alumni were later divided into groups representing their various areas of specialisation, such as environment, community, policy and governance, and training and research. Within these groups, they discussed significant changes in mining and development in the last three years and made personal pledges to effect at least one change in the next year.
Other guest speakers included ZAM4D Coordinator, Vincent Kawamya, Australia Awards Alumni Ambassador and Chair of the Zambia Australia Alumni Association, Timothy Moono, IM4DC Deputy Director, Dr Richard Slattery, who also represented the Australian Government, and Dr Wilfred Lombe, who had previously worked with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and who spoke to the group regarding the Africa Mining Vision.
His Excellency Mr Mathew Neuhaus, Australian High Commissioner to Zambia, was unable to attend, but sent his regards to the group. In his message, he congratulated the Alumni on their new initiative and urged them to continue building Zambia-Australia linkages by working closely with the main Zambia Australia Alumni Association (ZAAA). He also noted that “Australia contributes significantly to mining development issues in Zambia … the role played by Zambia has complemented this investment, as well as the contributions Awardees are making in their workplaces.”
Alumni also noted that communities need to be more involved in decision making, ensuring that they fully understand the implications and benefits of mining activity in their communities. Mining companies meanwhile need to be made more aware of the environmental laws in the country, and more collaboration with other institutions with regard to training and research, and the continued capacity building of local personnel, is needed.
At the conclusion of the event, Dr Slattery congratulated the Zambian Alumni on the positive changes they were making in the Extractives sector. In addition, Mr Kawamya, remarked: “We hope to have similar forums in the future where we can support and sustain ourselves, as mining for development is a national problem. We would like to maximise the social, economic and environmental benefits of mining in Zambia.”