Kenya has in the last decade stepped up efforts to exploit its mineral resources, more so with the establishment of a stand-alone ministry to oversee mining operations. The Mining Act 2016 was also enacted to ensure that the country reaped maximum benefits from the extraction of these resources.
The expected benefits have however been slow in coming for the people who deserve them most, particularly the communities in marginalised areas. One of the key provisions of the Act was that local communities must feel the benefits of the resources. The law provides for the national government to retain 70 per cent of the earnings, while counties get 20 per cent and 10 per cent goes to communities where mining activities are carried out.
However, this is hardly the case with the national government retaining most of the cash from royalties. We see many companies, both foreign and local, being licensed to carry out mining activities in the country.
It is even suspected that many others are operating without the requisite authorisation, especially in artisanal gold mining. The government does not need to be reminded to safeguard the country’s mineral resources and ensure that any extraction must serve the people first. This will only happen if the Mining Act is fully operationalised.
The Commission on Revenue Allocation, whose mandate is to ensure all areas have a share of the national cake, now wants the Ministry of Mining and Petroleum to put in place mechanisms that would allow mineral-rich counties to start enjoying the benefits of the resources exploited within their jurisdictions. The commission, while making recommendations on how money should be spent in the next financial year, said the Treasury received Sh634 million in royalties from different companies in the last financial year.
The National Treasury projects that royalties from the different minerals currently being extracted will grow 44 per cent in this financial year to Sh915.7 million. This is a lot of money, in addition to what the government has so far received. Communities on the ground should get their rightful share.
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