MRU Secretariat and GIZ sign cooperation agreement on regional resource governance work
Freetown, 16 July 2012: The partnership agreement between the Mano River Union (MRU) Secretariat and GIZ’s Regional Resource Governance Project, signed on July 13th, aims at strengthening the ability of the four MRU member states Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to maximise the benefit of natural resources for development. As of now, GIZ will support the Mano River Union Secretariat in facilitating the development of an MRU-wide strategy and promote regional collaboration on natural resource management. Friedemann Gille, GIZ Project Director, commented during the signing of the MoU: “We at GIZ are excited about the partnership with this prestigious regional organisation. This cooperation will contribute to reinforce the MRU’s position as a regional facilitator and centre of expertise on the extractive sector.” In concrete terms, this cooperation will materialise in the support to the revival of the MRU Commission on Energy and Natural Resources and the realisation of expert studies as well as workshops on risks and opportunities of the extractive sector at regional level.
The Mano River Union Secretariat (MRU) and the GIZ Resource Governance Project in West Africa have officially started cooperation on the governance of the extractive sector at a regional level, formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding signed on July 13th, 2012.
All four MRU member states are endowed with natural resources and have economies that depend heavily on the mineral sector, with mining accounting for as much as 54% of foreign exports and up to 25% of GDP. With large untapped resources, the contribution of minerals to the economy can still increase dramatically, providing a major source of income with which governments can finance development-oriented policies and projects. Just as importantly, mining projects present an opportunity to develop infrastructure, local supply chains and the local labour market, this integration driving widespread economic development. While signing the MoU, Mr. Simeon Moribah, MRU Secretariat Deputy Secretary General, underlined the importance of this integration: “A regional approach to mineral exploitation projects allows for the interlinking of such projects with each other, as well as with broader markets and infrastructure facilities, to the benefit of the region.”
Cooperation in the field of extractives is of particular importance in view of the region’s history of conflict, which was partially fuelled and financed by natural resources. Against this backdrop, and in view of the implications for security and peace, a regional approach to resource governance will allow MRU member states to tackle common challenges, such as smuggling, and transform the exploitation of natural resources into motors for development rather than conflict.
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