The ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme celebrated EU Raw Materials Week 2016 with an event to showcase the results of the Programme's training and capacity building with SMEs, governments, civil society and other stakeholders in 40 countries of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States. The event aimed to demonstrate how local minerals and materials such as sand, salt, marble and gravel can spur inclusive and sustainable development.
Major infrastructure ventures and rapid urbanization (forecasted to increase from 40% in 2010 to 56% in 2040 in Africa alone) are ramping up the demand for construction materials exponentially. The Development Minerals sector may therefore hold the key to tens of millions of jobs across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, boosting local, national and regional economies.
Nevertheless, the small-scale and mid-size operators that dominate the sector lack the requisite knowledge and skills in market analysis, entrepreneurship, value-addition of products as well as appropriate technologies. This is compounded by poor environmental labor and health and safety records. The important contribution of women in this sector also needs to be highlighted, recognized and measured. Actions aimed at addressing the practical needs of women and their strategic interests need to be integrated into national legal and policy frameworks to ensure women's effective participation in, and benefit from, the Development Minerals sector.
The showcase was a great opportunity that gathered over 120 participants including Ambassadors, senior officials from the European Commission, UNDP and the ACP Secretariat, development cooperation agencies, private and public operators in the mining sector, academia, other business development stakeholders as well as other key stakeholders to communicate the interim outcomes of the programme and raise the profile of Development Minerals as a sector of inherent economic potential that lends itself to employment creation and inclusive growth.
Egbert Hamilton, an alabaster artisan from Jamaica, also demonstrated how to polish and sculpt an alabaster slab sourced from Jamaica especially for the showcase. Thematic stations were assembled around the meeting and lunch space stocked with posters, postcards, photos, videos, statistics and other communications materials for the showcase attendees to interact with the knowledge generated by the programme.