Kenya has made significant progress in highlighting the extractive sector as an important source of revenue to grow the GDP.
The Ministry of Mining will promote the growth of the sector by formulating favourable policies, creating public awareness, and rallying the nascent sector in realizing the Vision 2030 goals – an economic blueprint meant to slingshot the country into a top-tier middle income economy.
The signing into law of the Mining Act 2016 that replaced the parachronistic Mining Act Cap 306 of 1940 is a milestone. The Act has breathed a new lease of life into a sector that holds huge potential for driving real growth and alleviating poverty. Investors have hailed the new law as “investor puller” – one that will boost confidence and encourage investments.
Last year, the sector generated Sh1.65 billion in revenues, which is meagre compared to the global standards. The ministry’s target is to have the sector contribute at least 10 per cent to the GDP and generate Sh700 billion as revenues by 2030. With a deficit of Sh690 billion in 2016-17 budget, the projected growth of the mining sector will be a blessing to the economy as it will help reduce government borrowing.
The big question is, how do we grow the extractives sector to realize its full potential? The answer lies in capacity building through professional training modeled around global standards. Our schools should therefore focus on technical skills.
Luckily, Vocational and Technical Training PS Dr Dinah Mwinzi has the wherewithal to formulate policies and develop a curriculum aimed at promoting acquisition of technical skills. This will help us find solutions to the problems like the one that befell Duka Moja trading center in Narok, where youths attacked SGR workers, claiming the government is importing labour leaving them without jobs.
The lack of skilled labour locally is a major challenge, which is compounded by the slow pace of investment in technical institutes, as the number of students enrolling in universities continues to outpace that of TVETs, further widening the skills gap. This means only a few Kenyans qualify to work for projects that require skilled labour.
But all is not lost. The establishment of local private institutes such as the Australia Africa Energy and Minerals Institute that offer tailor-made courses in mining and energy is a shot in the arm. AAEMI offers globally recognized courses which will equip locals with competitive skills.
Students will be able to specialize in a wide variety of courses relevant to the their area of interest, which include petroleum engineering and exploration and drilling engineering.