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National mining ICT database to eradicate mining disputes

By Jacob Mutisi

In 2021 Zimbabwe’s mining sector is proving to be big business, with mineral exports possibly reaching 60% of the country’s export earnings and the mining sector contributing around 20% of national gross domestic product (GDP).

Zimbabwe now needs to take advantage of the constantly advancing national information and communication technology (ICT), with these impressive results by developing a National Mines and Geosciences Central Database System (CDS).

This development falls straight into the recommendation of the World Bank. According to a new Zimbabwe Digital Economy Diagnostic report launched by the World Bank, Zimbabwe has made digital advancements but despite this advance, Zimbabwe is currently capturing only a fraction of its digital transformation growth potential, and the report also recommends strategic investments in digital skills and infrastructure and the creation of digital platforms and digital entrepreneurship and this will accelerate the country’s move to create the foundations for the digital economy of the future.

Zimbabwe’s lack of effective regulatory mechanisms and the inability to effectively monitor key mining activities and rein in illegal mining is wiping away Zimbabwe’s competitive advantage compared to its neighbours.

Zimbabwe’s mining sector has been riddled with legal disputes over mining claims over the years and  has also seen a surge in physical attacks by two or more individuals claiming ownership of the same exploration or mining claim.

To solve these disputes Zimbabwe needs to develop an ICT web and mobile-based CDS database portal which should feature a web and mobile-based interface that allows data transparency, a search and filtering function, and access to all applications that includes a mining application and exploration information. The portal should allow users access to information regarding the status of mining applications, request mineral analysis, mining tenements/permits issued, mineral resources data, mining technology-related data, mineral industry reports, status of mining-related cases, research and technology data, mine environmental and safety data, and other mining-related data.

For Zimbabwe, the adoption and development of the CDS presents opportunities for the mining sector because technology can reduce costs, increase the speed, processing of documents and maintain a centralised database for all mining-related information, to be publicly accessible, transparent, complete and comprehensive.

To ensure that the data on the portal is timely and relevant, updates are scheduled as frequently as three days, weekly and quarterly, or biannually and annually,depending upon the approval or need for new updates.

Zimbabwe was once the world’s third-largest producer of gold and holding substantial endowments of close to 40 different minerals. The country is also known to have commercial deposits of oil. The country has one of the largest known coal-bed methane gas deposits in Africa.

Zimbabwe continues to attract numerous investors from South Africa, China, Australia and various European nations. The Government of Zimbabwe is playing an active role in recognising mining and its downstream industries as key to the nation’s development.With the projected economic growth anchored by the mining sector, Zimbabwe needs to have a transparency and accountability system which can only be achieved by having a national ICT web and mobile-based Mines and Geosciences Central Database System.

  • Mutisi is the CEO of Hansole Investments (Pvt) Ltd and the current chairperson of Zimbabwe Information & Communication Technology, a division of Zimbabwe Institution for Engineers.

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