On 6 June 2016, the Department of Public Law hosted a ceremony at the University of Pretoria's Mining Industry Study Centre to welcome the 2016 Class of the newly introduced 'LLM in Extractive Industry Law in Africa', which falls under the auspices of the Faculty of Law.
Prof André Boraine, Dean of the Faculty of Law, welcomed the 27 students, who represent six African countries. He also extended a warm welcome to the various representatives from industry and practice, before providing a brief overview of the programme, and thanking its contributors and benefactors.
This was followed by a keynote presentation, delivered by renowned Prof Dr Melaku Geboye Desta, the Principal Regional Advisor and Head of the Natural Resources and Sustainable Development cluster at the Capacity Development Division (CDD) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Widely published in the fields of international economic law and policy in general, and on natural resources in particular, Prof Desta's presentation highlighted the lack of professional capacity in the fields of mineral, oil and gas law and policy on the continent. In view of this state, he commended the University of Pretoria on sending a strong global message that Africa is ready to develop advanced, multidisciplinary capacity in the area of extractive industries on its own soil, with the 2016 students constituting the first ambassadors to this cause.
According to Advocate Leon Gerber, Programme Director of the Extractives Industry Programme, the current LLM is to serve as the foundation for developing the programme into a financially independent 'Centre of Excellence in Extractives Law and Policy in Africa', within the Faculty of Law, which will serve as the knowledge hub for legal and policy development in the extractive sectors on the continent. In doing so, it will leverage the development of the continent's natural resources in an effective, equitable and sustainable manner, by delivering a generation of government, industry and policy leaders who truly understand the multifaceted challenges faced by contemporary extractive sectors in Africa.
Adv Gerber further said that the Programme's multidisciplinary curriculum effectively reflects the nature of issues in the industry, which comprise elements of regulation, policy development, political risk, community engagement and fiscal challenges. Accordingly, it is the hope of the Faculty that students completing the course will appreciate that transformation of the sector must be about human dignity and broad-based economic development, and not about enrichment of those with narrow, vested interests.
Applications for admission to the 2017 intake are open, and will close on 31 August 2016. More information on the programme is available at www.up.ac.za/centre-of-excellence-in-extractive-industries-law-in-africa.