July 15, 2024
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By Jonathan Maphosa

Next month, leaders across the African mining industry will converge in Cape Town for the annual Investing in African Mining Indaba. This premier event brings together stakeholders from companies, governments, and civil society to shape the sector’s future. And in 2024, discussions must prioritize inclusive job creation that embraces persons with disabilities.

With high unemployment rates in many African nations, mining’s capacity to spur economic mobility is more important than ever. However, systemic barriers have long excluded qualified individuals with disabilities from these opportunities. Discriminatory attitudes and inaccessible work environments prevent companies from tapping into this untapped talent pool. However, inclusive hiring is not just a moral imperative—it also makes brilliant business sense.

As delegates gather at Mining Indaba 2024, this moment can catalyze overdue commitments to disability inclusion across the sector. Here are key actions participants must take to drive progress:

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Lead with Intention

Inclusion starts at the top. Mining company executives must set strategic goals for disability representation across operations, backed by resource allocation and accountability systems. Governments should articulate explicit policies and incentives tied to hiring metrics. And civil society groups must maintain pressure through transparency initiatives. Intention must manifest through proactive efforts.

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Spotlight Exemplars

Organizers should highlight mining companies already pioneering inclusive practices at this convening, providing models to emulate. Firms that have appointed Accessibility Officers implemented accommodations, launched targeted apprenticeships, and forged partnerships with disability organizations deserve recognition. Platforming these leaders ignites a spirit of positive competition.

Share Knowledge

Well-informed leaders are empowered to enact change. Curated sessions should educate participants on disability legislation, workplace accommodations, adaptive technologies, and recruitment strategies. Candid panels where persons with disabilities speak on barriers and solutions are critical. Discussion groups can tailor workshop implementation plans to national and cultural contexts.

Make Commitments

The Indaba must culminate in concrete next steps, not just lofty rhetoric. Companies should pledge to audit facilities, update policies, implement training, and achieve hiring targets. Governments can form incentive programs and public-private partnerships. And collective commitments to data transparency will enable ongoing accountability.

Inclusion Drives Sustainable Growth

Ultimately, prioritizing disability inclusion is morally right and strategically essential. Tapping this overlooked talent pool will allow mining companies to reinvigorate their workforces. Shared prosperity contributes to political stability in mining communities. Firms proactively investing in accessibility will gain reputational advantages.

The long-term sustainability of African mining depends on equitably distributing its benefits. As sector leaders gather this February, they can set inclusion goals for the coming decades. With strategic initiatives, commitments, and, most importantly, intention, Mining Indaba 2024 can catalyze progress. The torch now passes to stakeholders—will you seize this moment to illuminate an inclusive path forward?

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