Free Essay: Titanium mining in Kwale Kenya
Environmental destruction and victimization of Kenya comes in the wake of augmented competition between China and the West for Africa’s and Kenya’s natural mineral wealth. The presence and influence of the Chinese has risen in the past decade in Africa. All levels of developing economies in Africa have been penetrated by the Chinese as they offer investment and aid in return for minerals in Africa. This has taken place despite presence of Western countries which are the investing and traditional partners of Africa. The Western and Chinese companies are also responsible for wrecking Kenyan environment as well as African continent in their search for minerals. The expanding influence Chinese have on mineral exploitation as well as investment in African is set to spike up the anxiety level regarding exploitation levels as well as victimization of the locals.
African countries are known as the new frontiers growth to global economy as they offer significant opportunities for growth that cannot be found elsewhere. The growth of economic, social and political integration of Western and Chinese countries into Africa will trigger changes in existing order that facilitates exploitation of the African countries. The project of titanium mining in Kwale Kenya is a good case study of the manner in which western companies apply their capital for purposes of exploiting African countries that are technologically and capital poor.
The project of Titanium mining in Kwale Kenya has a lifespan of approximately thirteen years. After years of false starts and controversies, the project began in 2013, October. Despite so much fanfare at the start of the process of mining, the future of the project does not sit well with development of Kwale and Kenya as a whole. Titanium mining applies strip mining. Over the duration of the project, the company is going to excavate land in order to remove soil that contains the mineral ore. As a result, the land left behind will be unproductive which means it will be of no use once the project is completed. The company is not going to carry out land reclamation as such it is going to leave pits that are open and dangerous to animals and the people alike.
The income projected to arise from the project will begin to drop after 2 years from its commissioning. This time, it will be shorter than the duration it takes for the company to break even. This means the expected royalties from the mining project will be minimal. The benefits of the mining project to development of Kenya therefore are limited. The new Kenyan constitution led to creation of county governments and Kwale County is one of the poorest in the country. The income expected to come from royalties does not, in any way match to environmental degradation resulting from the project.
Historically, African countries have regulatory regimes that are weak. The oversight is weak as a result of rampant corruption on part of those entrusted to protect the interests of the people. Western companies largely influence passing of laws by affecting operations through bribing corrupt individuals so they can change laws. International mining agreements as well are complex. African countries do not have the expertise or the capital needed to exploit their mineral resources which are abundant. Western companies also use delegations that are high powered to pressure the African governments to move fast and offer mining concessions without any due process. Sometimes, these companies will even offer incentives to the elite, hence not benefiting ordinary citizens in order to speed the process involved in acquisition of the mining licenses.
African countries are supposed to stand up as well as protect interests of citizens from exploitation. They should pass some modern laws that regulate mineral exploitation. Majority of the African countries also still use mining laws that were inherited from colonial governments. These laws are Eurocentric and not aimed at protecting the interests of the locals. African countries are supposed to place emphasis on reclamation of land and use of mining practices that are safe. In the effort to cut down on costs and increase profitability, Western countries often use cheap mining techniques in order to extract minerals. These techniques are not friendly to the environment and they also lead to wanton environmental destruction.
The practice of accountability and openness in awarding and bidding tenders to exploit minerals is of great importance. Most of the African countries enter into exclusive and secretive mining agreements with western companies. There is no thorough scrutiny to ensure the country gets the best deal. Secrecy of negotiations also opens the door that leads to abuse of the process. The negotiators who are few are comprised easily and this leads to signing of deals that are lopsided. In order to guard against this, mining agreements are supposed to be open to scrutiny by the public before the government commits to any deal.
The Kenyan government can serve as the role model by coming up with new mining deals that should be struck throughout Africa. The country has already promulgated a new constitution which gives guidelines on sharing and exploitation of sharing mineral wealth. The country should also enact legislation that explicitly sets how agreements on mining will come into force. Recently, Kenya was in the news due to viable oil deposits that were discovered within its borders. For a large number of African countries, oil discovery has proven to be a curse instead of a blessing. It is going to be interesting to see whether Kenya will use oil resources that were discovered recently to provide the leadership that is needed within the African continue to exploit resources without conflict.
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