Cabinet Secretary, Mining,
Members of Parliament,
Excellencies Ambassadors & High Commissioners,
I am happy to be here this afternoon.
- For our friends visiting Kenya let me extend a special welcome to you and also invite you for a day or two after the meeting to see what mineral riches Kenya can offer.
- It is surprising how often we in Kenya take these riches for granted. The other day, I had a look at a book on the natural history of Kenya.
- Flipping through, it reminded me of the age, the beauty, and the wealth of our inheritance. Let me mention one feature that stood out, perhaps because it is so seldom mentioned. Near Migori, we have a very ancient belt of rocks — nearly three billion years old, the oldest in the country — which bear gold. And yet how many of us have seen these ancient and beautiful rocks?
- We have a very rich inheritance. It’s incumbent upon us to manage it well, if only because we will transform our lives, and our children’s lives, if we do so. That’s the opportunity before us. We can be a country whose natural riches are widely and fairly shared, with enough left for our posterity — and all while respecting our environment. If ever there was an opportunity that had to be seized, this is it. Let us take it.
- Here’s how. First, we must assess our riches. Look closely at our geological records: you’ll discover that some of them date back to the colonial era — and have never been exploited. This is not a firm base from which to begin. If we’re going to make the most of our natural riches, we need to know what and where they are.
- That’s why I’m so glad to hear that the Ministry of Mining has already found experts to survey the country; and to establish, finally, a full database of Kenya’s mineral wealth.
- Once we have the knowledge, it is up to us to use it. I look forward to the Ministry putting that data into usable form. Kenyans should be able to go online, and to see for himself/herself what mineral wealth is available in their counties; and to see clearly how and by whom, it is being exploited.
I ask for this sort of radical accountability because without it, we will not fulfill our second responsibility — our mineral riches will not be widely and fairly shared.
The Mining Sector is one of the pillars that we believe has the power to define the future of this country. This is why we set up a standalone ministry in 2013 and the achievements of this sector and ministry have completely vindicated that decision.
We are here today to have conversations about more growth, more transformation and more investment. Kenya has extra-ordinary potential and by the time this forum is over I challenge you to have converted some of that into tangible action plans.
We have made extensive reforms to the governance of the mining sector
- Three principles seem to me most important in the sharing of that wealth. First, our natural wealth is our national wealth. And what belongs to all of us should be equitably shared among us. Second, a nation does not consist only of its citizens at a particular time; our descendants are Kenyans too. They can claim their share of this wealth, and we are accountable to them for it.
- And, finally, those communities in which these riches are found have a special share in these riches. It is their land from which we will get these riches; it is only right that they receive a special share of the proceeds.
- The national Government is the chief custodian of Kenya’s riches. We hold these riches in trust for Kenyans.
- Working with friends, partners and stakeholders, we must choose how best to grow these riches. But we can never forget that we are the agents of the people of Whatever plan we make, whatever arrangement we enter, the final say lies with the people of Kenya — the owners of this wealth.
- Some of you will remember the parable of the talents. The owner left his property to his agents. They went and did as best as they could. When he returned, one of the agents took out the talent his master had left him.
- And, of course, the master was deeply dismayed that there had been no increase; the poor agent was thrown out. Let’s be perfectly clear today: the people of Kenya will be even *less* forgiving than the owner in the parable because the riches they have asked us to manage are potentially life changing.
- We, the custodians of these riches, must multiply them for the Kenyan people, and then share them equitably. This is not the place we enter detailed discussion of policy, but one point that must be made is this: openness is necessary.
- That’s why we have established a royalty-sharing scheme in the ratio 70:20:10 between the national government, the county government, and the communities in which these minerals are found.
- It is not good simply having a plan. That plan must be verifiable – a word which some of us might recently have heard, but one which certainly has its place. Kenyans own these minerals.
- As owners of the property, they should be able to tell who, at a glance, is using it and where and how it makes them richer. If we don’t make that information publicly available, then Kenyans will be unforgiving, and we will face the same problems that have long bedeviled our friends elsewhere on the continent.
- We could share these riches among ourselves, and leave nothing for our children. Would we have done right? I say, No!
- It is as vital to save for tomorrow, as it is to share for today. Other nations have done this: from Norway, which has an endowment fund, which the proceeds of its oil are paid, and from which they are invested; to Ghana, which invests its Petroleum Funds.
- Given these examples, it’s not beyond us to establish similar arrangements, and to make sure that our riches today eases the lives of our children tomorrow.
- I know that we in Kenya have done our homework, and that we have a plan along these lines, which has found broad acceptance. What remains is its approval. I trust that whatever reviews remain will be completed quickly, so that we can start investing our wealth.
- Additionally, the communities on whose land these minerals are found are entitled to a special share of the proceeds.
- The principle is simple, and it is right. Some have disputed it; the Government has not. It is a principle to which we are wholly committed.
- There have been disputes, both about the extent of the revenue sharing and about its form. Well, the law leaves no room for doubt or dispute: the Mining Act, states that at least 10% of the proceeds will go to the communities in which these minerals are found.
- But that is not all: under the Community Development Agreements to be signed between the communities and the mining firms concerned, at least 1% of the firms’ revenues will be spent in the community where the mining occurs. That portion is separate from the share specified under the Mining Act, and offers the communities and the firms the flexibility they will need to meet their particular needs.
- We could say more, Ladies and Gentlemen. I do not doubt that we will. But the fine details of policy are a matter of give and take; of negotiation and compromise. Not so the points of principle. That the mineral wealth of Kenya belongs to the people of Kenya is supreme. That the mineral wealth of Kenya must enrich our children is not negotiable. And the rule that the communities that bear the cost of the mining must have a special share in its proceeds is equally sacrosanct.
- In conclusion, let me underscore that a house built on a foundation of sand cannot last; but these principles we set out today are the rocks upon which the house of Kenya’s prosperity will be.
Let’s get to work now. God Bless you