Friday, September 27, 2013

Most investment pledges in extractive industries are exaggerated - Panos
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe in Grahamstown, South Africa
Tue 03 Sep. 2013, 14:00 CAT

MOST investment pledges being made by foreign multinationals into extractive industries are exaggerated and there is nothing for communities, says Panos Institute of Southern Africa Zambia Chapter.

Panos Institute of Southern Africa Zambia Chapter communications manager Vusumuzi Sifile said most communities lacked the capacity to police investors to ensure their pledges commensurate with what was realised on the ground.

He said Panos Institute was working to increase capacity of communities to hold policy makers and investors accountable for planned investments.

"There are a number of major mining projects. Every year, there is a new mining project coming in but in most cases, you find that you are told that on paper there are a lot of interesting figures but if you go on the ground, you will find that there isn't anything for the communities," Sifile said of the project being piloted in Zambia and Mozam bique.

He said this during a panel discussion on "The role of social media in elections and accountability" at the just-ended 17th Highway Africa Conference at Rhodes University.

Sifile said there was need for massive investment in communities to empower natives to track and ensure they benefit from natural resources being extracted from their areas.

"So, we have been focusing on empowering those communities to demand for a fair share of whatever is realised from the extraction of those resources," he said.

"On public accountability, we have been working around education, agriculture...empowering local communities in tracking the budget so that whatever is allocated to them reaches them."

Sifile said despite recent growth in the use of social media in Africa and the growing availability of data-enabling mobile phones, radio still remained the most widely used and accessed tool for communities to hold leaders accountable and participate in their development trajectory.

"The majority of the poor and marginalised do not have access to internet," said Sifike. "And that is the reason, as Panos, we embracing social media but we realise most of the people that we are targeting do not have access to social media tools. Someone may have access to data network phone but they don't have the clue how they are supposed to use that phone to effectively communicate. Radio is still the most widely preferred forinformation sources and we are fortunate that Zambia has more than 60 registered radio stations."

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