News Column

Micro Finance Will Solve Miners' Problems - -Shehu

September 1, 2014



The President, Miners Association of Nigeria, MAN, Alhaji Sani Shehu, in this interview with Gabriel Ewepu, speaks on the move by the association to establish a micro finance bank for miners, and other economic issues that will boost the sector. Excerpt:

How has the Miners Association fared since the beginning of the year?

We are faring averagely well, minerals are being discovered, investors are coming, and our aspiration is to see that government give more attention to the sector. Also, the five per cent of the budget being considered by the National Confab for the sector is a big plus for the efforts we are making.

You mean minerals are being discovered?

It is not discovery per say, I am talking about rare-earth, it is in reference to the minerals contained in the earth, and it is now known to us. It is of high value and demand, and we encourage miners to go into it for wealth creation.

What have your association contributed to the economy since you were established?

What we have done so far includes encouraging miners to mine in conformity with government regulations, and it is a general statement. It includes payment of tax to the government, and partnering with other investors coming into the sector. We have been working with them by mining in large quantities because it is when you mine in large quantities you generate enough revenue for yourself and the government.

Our members have been involved in corporate social responsibility activities by providing basic amenities such as electricity to host and neighbouring communities. We have also provided employment for the teeming youths, and with these, the Miners Association of Nigeria has contributed to the growth of the economy.

Why the push to own a micro finance bank now after many years establishing the association?

The world is dynamic and institutions are also supposed to be dynamic. What I mean is what you don't have today you can have it tomorrow, and what you don't have yesterday you can have it today. Institutional thinking generally is supposed to be evolving and dynamic. As an association, we identified gaps that are impediments to meeting our aspirations and objectives, and you have to strive to achieve them, so the need to have a micro finance bank. And over the years, commercial and micro finance banks seem to have specific objectives that hardly accommodate other sectors. As you can see, there are agricultural micro finance banks, and they are objective driven.

Therefore, miners deemed it necessary to have their own micro finance bank. Looking at it, we also realised that mining has certain variables that you can hardly find in other sectors. So we decided to have a bank that will address mining challenges and that is why we thought to have mining micro finance bank. The categories of miners the bank will serve are the small scale miners, and they form 90 per cent of the miners in the sector. Thereafter, the bank will graduate into a full scale bank that will address issues of big and medium scale miners. The miners' micro finance bank is a solution to our funding problems.

What progress have you made so far towards achieving your dream?

Our consultants are working, and very soon we expect them to give us the report, and we will act accordingly.

If finally the bank comes on stream, how will your association sustain it?

Well, we are going to sustain the bank through patronage by our members and other people who have interest in the sector.

What is the capital base for this bank you intend to establish?

The takeoff amount is in different categories. It is the executive that will decide the category we will base the bank and that will be after the consultants have submitted their reports. So there is no take-off grant yet.

On the issue of illegal mining and miners, what has your association done in tackling it?

Well, we have been using persuasion, awareness, and sensitisation to disseminate the information that illegal or artisanal mining should be done properly. Illegal mining is not recognised by the law, rather it is artisanal and small scale mining that is recognised by the Mining Act. Under the Act there are some incentives for this kind of miners.

We have been reaching out and persuading them to migrate from illegality to legality. We have taken our advocacy to traditional rulers, community leaders and youth bodies, including other stakeholders for them to return to legality. So far so good; we are trying, but it is not a project that can be executed overnight, it has to take time and with government also supporting us, we will soon reach our destination.


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Source: AllAfrica


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