.Africa News Special Focus 

October 12 - 18, 2012

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

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Cabinet pass wildlife and
mineral bills to boost sectors

Conservationists SAY poachING of wildlife including
elephants, lions and rhinos are back, IS threatening
many years of conservation efforts

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NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Cabinet on Thursday passed wildlife and mineral bills and policies to speed up the conservation of the country’s wildlife resources and also to recognize the rapid expansion and importance of mining in the country.

A statement issued in Nairobi after the Cabinet meeting said the Wildlife Policy and Wildlife Bill 2012 will provide a comprehensive institutional framework for managing wildlife, human wildlife conflict, and compensation and ensures that wildlife is beneficial to those who live with the wildlife.

"The Bill establishes that the Kenya Wildlife and Forestry Regulatory Council; County Wildlife Conservation Committees; Wildlife Conservation Fund and restructures the Kenya Wildlife Services to fit within the new regulatory framework," the statement said.

Kenya wildlife enthusiasts have been banking on the passage of the new Wildlife Bill 2011 to reduce the rising cases of poaching in the East African nation.

The law proposes severe punishment for poachers and people-led wildlife conservancy efforts.

The proposed Wildlife Bill has also recommended severe crime for poachers since poaching will be like an organised crime under the law.

For example, under the proposed law, offences relating to sport hunting will attract fine not less than 23,500 U.S. dollars or imprisonment not less than seven years while other crimes carry a fine of at least 5,800 dollars and imprisonment of not less than two years.

The fines are severe than the existing average of 200 dollars charged for various wildlife crimes.

Conservationists have argued that lenient wildlife crime laws are attracting poachers to traffic animal trophies through Kenyan because they know that even if they are arrested, the punishment is not severe.

The KWS has expressed fears that the scenes of 1970s and 80s when poaching was a serious menace, and contributed to the depletion of wildlife including elephants, lions and rhinos are back, are threatening many years of conservation efforts and animal populations that had started to balloon.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is currently involved in efforts to improve the capacities of African countries to fight poaching as well as enabling countries where illegal animal trophies are destined to improve their capacity to detect the trophies through their points of entry.

The Cabinet also passed the Geology, Minerals and Mining Bill and Policy 2012 in recognition of the rapid expansion and importance of mining in the country.

"This is aimed at providing a strong legal and institutional framework to create a value adding mining sector that benefits local communities, counties, the government and the mining operators," the statement said.

The Bill provides for the equitable growth of the mining sector and the sharing of royalties according to the formula of central government 75 per cent, counties 20 percent and local communities five per cent.

The Mining Policy establishes the Kenya Mining Corporation that will be the investment arm of the government and the Kenya Minerals and Mining Authority that will be the regulatory authority

"This will help mainstream artisan, small and big-scale mining and will especially promote mining processing for value addition," the statement said.

The East African nation intends to create a robust legal and policy environment to promote the mining sector.

Environment Minister Chirau Mwakwere stressed that the East African nation aims to become a mining hub in the region.

He last week that Kenya is endowed with a number of mineral resources that contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of the country.

Analysts say mineral industry in Kenya cannot therefore develop until laws are revised and the government can guarantee secure title of minerals and the required surface rights.

Kenya is yet to fully tap the immense mineral wealth due to technical and financial bottlenecks.

Mwakwere regretted that poor infrastructure, inadequate capital and lack of geological data, shortage of manpower and poor marketing strategies have undermined the growth of mining sector In Kenya.

The government has however invested in modern equipments that include a drilling rig to be used in mineral exploration countrywide.

Unexpected delays of many months to years in obtaining licenses of various types from government officials, he said, result to a number of projects involving foreign investors and major corporations failing to materialize because of delays, a factor he outlined as having inhibited mineral production in Kenya.

Importation of equipment and parts, import tariffs, expatriation of profits, allocation of foreign exchange and availability of infrastructure and inhibiting tax regimes are impediments the professor said need to be investigated separately and solutions found for each case.

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