About the Extractive Industry Law Programme at the University of Pretoria

Africa is richly endowed with minerals, oil and gas and has enormous potential to govern the economic extraction of natural resources in a way that would enable a quantum improvement in the socio-economic performance of the continent. Despite the presence of such resources, large numbers of its people, live in poverty. Poverty, coupled with inequality and unemployment, are major challenges facing South Africa and other African countries.

It is the obligation of Governments to see that mineral and hydrocarbon wealth is responsibly extracted in the interests of their people as a whole. However, in order to do so, it is necessary to provide a regulatory framework that strikes a fair balance between protecting the broad-ranging interests of the people at large, and creating a climate that makes mineral, oil and gas extraction financially worthwhile for local and international investors.  To be successful, mining, oil and gas companies must have a proper understanding of the public policy imperatives of the jurisdictions in which they operate, and governments must have a working knowledge of the financial metrics driving investment decisions of companies to formulate effective policy and regulatory frameworks.  Likewise, the benefit derived from such activities must to clearly stipulated, with communities, in turn, having to have an understanding of the dynamics that drive the modern extractive industries.

In short, the potential offered by these natural resources cannot be realised without specialised capacity in the public, as well as the private sector.  It is a collective process, which requires all stakeholders to be fully grounded in the science pertaining to the area.  For Africa to increase its self-sustainability, it needs to develop its own capacity to groom its best talents to take up these positions, and to develop its own cutting-edge research capacity in the area, drawing on the best that the world has to offer.

Tailor-made courses in Africa, for students from Africa, will set the tone for the next generation of industry and government leaders who can address these difficult issues with greater focus and more pertinently than through global programmes.  This new generation of policy makers, officials and legislatures will appreciate that transformation of the sector must be about human dignity and broad-based economic development, not about the enrichment of those with narrow, vested interests.  They will recognise that the impact of extractive projects range far beyond the signed contract, and be equipped to address governance and implementation that are complex and potentially determinative to the success of such ventures.

- Author EI Law in Africa Programme

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