Harnessing Extractive Industries for Development in sub-Saharan Africa: An Interdisciplinary Workshop
Thursday 9 and Friday 10 June 2016
Over 40 PhD researchers, leading academics, and expert industry practitioners met at Surrey Business School (SBS) to explore the challenges and pathways to realising the development potential of extractive industries (mining, oil and gas) in sub-Saharan Africa.
This international workshop led by James McQuilken, a PhD researcher at SBS, and funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council via their South East Doctoral Training Centre, fostered dialogue between key stakeholder groups and laid the basis for future collaboration. Participants from a range of disciplines and international institutions presented their cutting-edge research and were asked to collectively identify what is needed to ensure the region’s extractive resources can be harnessed for development by the countries and people that own them.
A range of sessions helped meet this aim and guaranteed plenty of time for discussions and reflection. Professor Gavin Hilson, Chair of Sustainability at Surrey Business School, opened proceedings with his keynote speech focusing on an often overlooked and largely informal sector that supports upwards of 13 million people in sub-Saharan Africa: artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM).
Having heard from six further presenters on day 1 covering topics as diverse as Corporate Social Responsibility in Chad’s oil sector and partnerships between mine exploration companies and community development in Ethiopia, we were provided with more food for thought from participants on day 2, and through several group breakout sessions, given the opportunity to discuss the issues highlighted in-depth. Towards the end of the workshop we were treated to a question and answer session with Stephen Okyere, a small-scale diamond dealer and miner from Ghana, who told us about the devastating effects of the 2006-2007 Kimberly Process embargo on his hometown of Akwatia.
With the sometimes unintended and adverse impact of development interventions on communities in mind, the workshop culminated in a lively panel discussion comprising high-profile experts from academia and industry1. It was decided that it’s all about the ‘people, power, and politics’ when it comes to harnessing the extractive industries for development in sub-Saharan Africa, and, as a final thought, many commended the workshop for its comprehensive programme and fostering dialogue between academia, NGOs and industry – a space which further workshops should aim to fill.
James McQuilken, Workshop Organiser & SBS PhD Researcher