Dar es Salaam. The legal community in Tanzania in association with international partners is seeking to bridge the knowledge gap in natural resources governance at a time when Tanzania endeavours to boost maximum utilisation of resources to benefit its people.
Legal experts told The Citizen on Thursday September 19 that the country is blessed with many lawyers but only few of them are competent enough to analyse the extractive industry contracts and advise the government appropriately at the time of signing.
The Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) and the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) organised a training program to equip policy actors with knowledge on best practices and standards in natural resource management.
The training, which took place under the auspices of the Supporting Inclusive Resource Development (SIRD) aims to influence policy making in the country in an attempt to reduce harms and maximize positive outcomes for women and communities affected by mining, oil and gas industries.
The Canadian-funded SIRD seeks to ensure inclusive resource development in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
The training drew lawyers from the ministry of mineral, the Law Reforms Commission, legal officers from the Geita Town Council, secretaries of the parliamentary committees on natural resources among others.
“Honestly, the shortage is acute,”said Mr Stephen Msechu, a programme manager with the TLS.
He added: “We want to make sure that our lawyers are conversant enough with all laws guiding resources governance so that they can act as catalysts for their improvements when necessary.”
Ms Jennifer Johnson, the director of International Initiatives with the CBA told The Citizen on the side-lines of the training session that Tanzania has arguably made great strides in resources governance compared to its East African neighbours.
“But there are still rooms for improvement, especially when it comes to the issue of women’s participation in the extractives industry,” said Ms Johnson who doubles as the director of the SIRD.
“This is one area that the project aims to contribute to in the collective efforts to the social and economic growth of the East Africans.”
A lawyer with the Geita Gold Mine Ms Elizabeth Karua said that the training program was extremely desirable to lawyers but specifically to her as a female lawyer in the field.
“It has enabled us to learn from our Canadian counterpart, whose extractive industry has significantly contributed to the development of their country, especially on the women’s participation in the industry,” said Ms Karua.