Global Forum on Law Justice and Development
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African Mining Legislation Atlas (AMLA) Project

Brief Project History from Inception to Date

In 2013, the Legal Vice Presidency of the World Bank (WB) initiated the African Mining Legislation Atlas (AMLA) project. An idea conceived by Nneoma Veronica Nwogu, WB task team lead for AMLA, the project aims to address the issue of information asymmetry in Africa’s mining sector through: providing customized contextual and legal data on Africa’s mining laws through the AMLA platform website; building the capacity of Africa’s next generation of legal experts in mining law; and producing a guiding template, an annotated document designed to assist countries in the preparation or revision of their mining laws.

A small team from the WB’s legal department developed the pilot of the project, with initial funding proceeding primarily from the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) and secondarily from Vale SA and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). To launch the project, several African universities were invited to participate in the project implementation partnership, with the University of Cape Town leading the group of academic institutions. The universities with whom the project started (and continues) its collaboration are: University of Cape Town (South Africa), Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique), Université Général Lansana Conté (Conakry, Guinea), Université Cheikh Anta Diop (Senegal), Université de Douala (Cameroon), University of Jos (Nigeria), Facultés Universitaires Privées d'Abidjan (Ivory Coast), University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and University of Zambia (Zambia).

The pilot was concluded at the end of 2014. By that point, the project had publicly disclosed the initial version of the AMLA platform with samples of customized contextual and legal data on Africa’s mining sector, and trained 24 legal professionals in relevant mineral law issues and use of the AMLA platform at the first AMLA workshop. Out of this group, the top 14 candidates were selected to continue their training remotely and become part of the Legal Research Team (LRT), which is responsible for populating and updating the website under the supervision of a quality control team.

In 2015, subsequent funding came from the Extractive Industries Technical Advisory Facilities (EI-TAF) in addition to the continued support from ALSF. With these resources, the project made significant progress in each of its activities which were discussed at the session “AMLA Project One Year in: Customizing Legal Data and Mobilizing Capacity in Mining Governance” held during the at the Law, Justice and Development Week, a World Bank Group event hosted by the legal units of the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).  

In this next phase of the project, the first version of the platform was improved and presently this “one-stop-shop” resource utilizes interactive mapping technology to disclose informative contextual data and provides, at no cost, access to laws in searchable as well as downloadable format. In addition, the platform offers a comparative feature that displays side by side legislative language extracted from different national laws that speak to the same topic. As of January 2016, the website contains all 53 existing African mining codes (São Tomé and Principe does not have an existing mining law and does not have known plans to develop one) in searchable format, and is being populated with mining code amendments, mining regulations and related legislation. The website also features a multilingual functionality that eases navigation for English, French and Portuguese speaking visitors. The AMLA platform was designed and engineered by a Kenyan ICT and web development firm to work with low speed internet connections; however, to further improve its usability in Africa, the web developer is currently working on a mobile responsive version of the AMLA platform.

Second, the project organized the second AMLA workshop. To date, the project has trained more than 50 young African legal professionals from 17 countries, speaking French, English, Arabic and Portuguese in addition to numerous local languages. Besides the initial collaborating Universities, several other African Law Faculties expressed their interest in having their students specializing in mineral law. Both workshops were held at the University of Cape Town, and participating students undertook a 10 day training on (i) overall mining sector legal issues, (ii) how to use the AMLA platform as end-users for legal research purposes, and (iii) how to populate the AMLA platform with content. In parallel, the students’ Professors engaged in discussions with practitioners from the private sector and representatives from civil society about facilitating the establishment or heightening the level of mineral law courses through exchange of lessons learned and cross-country academic collaborations. A short video about the project was shot during the second workshop and is available here. The third AMLA workshop will be organized in late November or beginning of December 2016 and the project is presently identifying the third edition’s host University.

Third, the project produced a working draft of the guiding template. The guiding template is a document that gathers 186 sector-related topics that can appear in a mining law, presenting them as a menu of suggested legislative examples inspired by current mining laws as well as sector realities across Africa. These examples are accompanied by detailed annotations explaining the context, issues, and useful features of each presented sample provision. In a "one-stop shop" approach similar to the AMLA platform, the guiding template aims to provide users with a comprehensive tool through which they can consider the topical issues with concrete examples of drafting language as they develop, modify or simply assess mining legislative frameworks that fit each country's unique context. The partners engaged in this project activity form the Guiding Template Review Committee (GTRC) which includes representatives from a broad range of institutions including: Africa Union Commission (AUC); ALSF; WB; International Senior Lawyers Program (ISLP); International Bar Association (IBA), Latham & Watkins (LW); National Resource Governance Institute (NRGI); and Mining Law in Africa (MLiA) program at the University of Cape Town. The project and its contributors will revise the guiding template on the basis of comments provided by the GTRC.

The sustainability of the project, including the long term maintenance of the AMLA platform, is being finalized by the AMLA partners. For those interested in providing feedback on the AMLA platform or the project in general, the AMLA team can be contacted here.

Editor’s note: This section was last updated on January 2016. 

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