The move by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Mining, Najib Balala, to revoke all mining licences issued between January 14 and May 15 this year is welcome. According to the Secretary, some of the firms involved are dubious entities that ride on speculation but have no capacity to conduct commercial exploitation. Others inflate data on quantities to excite investors back at home. Moreover, some mining companies have been shortchanging the government by remitting less than 10 percent of their proceeds.
The recent discoveries of oil, gas and precious metals in Kenya provide the country a great opportunity to develop. If Balala’s move is geared at inculcating the due process discipline in the country’s mining industry, the country is likely to reap benefits from its extractive industry. However, if the move is just a political ploy to change the eaters in the industry but maintain the status quo, a socio-economic storm is imminent. Kenyans hope the former will prevail in line with the new Constitution to make mining benefits trickle down to the ordinary citizen and improve the county’s economy.