Although Kenya is an economic powerhouse in the Eastern Africa region, its mining industry has been rather immature accounting for a dismal contribution to the country’s GDP. This is in contrast to its neighbours like Tanzania who according to IMF, earned US2.2 billion from gold exports in 2016, thus making mining the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner.
According to the country’s newly established ministry of Mining, Kenya’s mining industry is dominated mainly by production of non-metallic minerals such as soda-ash, fluorspar and some gemstones. Gold is produced in small scale in the western parts of the country. Nevertheless, there have been marked changes following the discovery of Titanium in the Northern parts of Kenya (Turkana). According to Monica Gichuhi of the Kenya Chamber of Mines, Kenya is emerging as a new and active player in the industry. “We have deposits of titanium and oil in Turkana making Kenya a place to invest in.” she said in a press interview.
In May 2016, the Kenyan Government introduced a new Mining Act to replace an outdated one and according to the mining cabinet secretary Mr. Dan Kazungu, the Act is aimed at making the sector more vibrant and attractive to investors as well as providing for more transparency and credibility. “Following the efforts of galvanising and reforming our legislative agenda to make Kenya a business-friendly country, we have been certified by the World Bank as the top country in Africa recognised for the ease of doing business” said Kazungu. Additionally, the country is also upgrading its infrastructure.
There are also other concerted efforts by stakeholder in the sector ensure growth and success, for instance, the Kenya Mining Forum brings together interested parties to showcase the country as an emerging destination for mining and according to the Forum, Kenya has been working on a 20-year mining plan that already highlighted a potential of USD 62.4 billion in mining revenues.
Other efforts include collaboration between the Kenya Chamber of Mines and the Association of Women in Extractives to work with the Ministry. “We are working at addressing some of the challenges within the Act and the Regulations that the industry is facing to ensure that Kenya offers a viable trading atmosphere and market” explains Alice Muthama, the Managing Director at Rockland Jewelers, one of the key stakeholders in the sector.
According to Alice, through the Association of Women in Extractives, the Kenya Gem and Jewelry Fair premiered this year is among the many efforts aimed at making Kenya a gem trading hub and matching up to its neighbors like Tanzania.
By Linda Ogwell-Teunissen