NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 21- Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai has urged the public sector lawyers in East Africa to ensure that resource wealth brings East Africa long-term and sustainable economic development, through preventing resource dependence and encouraging economic diversification.
He says this will encourage job creation despite the sector’s capital-intensive nature, by minimizing environmental degradation and by allowing for the benefits to accrue even after depletion of resources.
The AG says already various governments in the general East African region are increasingly putting in place legal and regulatory mechanisms to support the investments in the extractives sector.
This, he says includes reviewing of outdated legislation and the enactment of new laws as well as other mechanisms to improve the investment climate and enhance the ease of doing business.
“In Kenya we have recently enacted new business laws legislation that improve the environment for doing business; which include the Companies Act, Insolvency Act, Business Registration Service Act, Insolvency Legislation (Consequential Amendments) Act. We are also focused on reviewing outdated legislation regulating the extractives sector and enacting legislation that is aligned to the Constitution of Kenya, 2010,” he said.
He noted that Kenya has progressed in formulating laws to ensure natural resources are properly managed.
“The rise of exploration activities has also seen a rise in litigation both before Kenyan courts and internationally. Most of the African countries are now trying to build their own capacities to handle complex commercial disputes with the setting up of regional Centres for commercial arbitration, with one being here in Nairobi, Rwanda, Mauritius, Egypt among others,” Muigai added.
East African Development Bank Director General, Vivienne Yeda, observed that the discovery and ongoing exploration of various minerals in the region has raised the expectation of host communities and governments that resource extraction will result into wealth creation, reduced budget deficit and improve the conditions of the local people.
“It is critical that host countries are able to derive tangible benefits from the exploitation of their natural resources. The benefits should accrue to the local communities in form of appropriate royalties, taxes, dividends, business opportunities, professional jobs and employment for skilled labour,” Yeda said.
She added that there should be a clear benefit to the country, commensurate with the amount of resources derived for the country. In order to achieve this, taxes and other fiscal rates, environmental and social management in Africa should be comparable to those prevailing in advanced economies.
They were speaking during a training seminar organised by EADB and facilitated by global law firm, DLA Piper.
It was designed for judges from the East African region involved in arbitrating transactions and settlement of disputes in the extractive sectors.