Namibia considers scrapping black ownership requirements in mining
The country is looking to benefit from an upturn in the commodities cycle by easing investment rules — as Zimbabwe and Angola are doing
Windhoek — Diamond and uranium producer Namibia may scrap requirements for black ownership in the mining sector as it seeks to woo investors to an industry that is rebounding with the commodities cycle, its new mines minister said on Tuesday.
Regional peers such as Angola and Zimbabwe are also trying to kickstart their mining sectors by easing investment rules — at a time when other African countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo are embracing resource nationalism, and raising taxes and royalties.
"I am not going to withdraw them [black ownership requirements] unilaterally, obviously we first have to discuss and see if they are really serving the purpose of why they exist. If the answer is, they don’t, then maybe we should change," Mines Minister Tom Alweendo said.
"To give exploration licences to many people who won’t add value, I think we are just slowing down the [black] empowerment that we want to achieve at the end of the day," he said.
Under the current policy, there must be a minimum 20% representation of historically disadvantaged, or black, Namibians in the management structure of a company that applies for an exploration licence.
At least 5% of the company must be owned by Namibian persons or by a company wholly owned by Namibians.
Namibia gained its independence from SA in 1990. The former German colony had suffered from apartheid-style rule, with the white minority controlling most of the economy.
The disparities rooted in this state of affairs remain politically thorny issues in both countries.