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On Sunday, 5 February 2017, the Organisation of African Geological Surveys (OAGS) hosted its Executive Committee handover ceremony. The OAGS consists of 37 active member countries. The Executive Committee is elected to office every three years. The outgoing Executive Committee consisted of the Presidency which was held by Namibia, the first Vice-Presidency which was held by Mozambique and the second Vice-Presidency by Niger. The elected Committee consists of the Presidency held by Nigeria and the regional Vice-Presidency which consists of:

  • Northern Region: Morocco

  • Southern Region: Botswana

  • Eastern Region: Kenya

  • Central Region: Chad

  • Western Region: Senegal

The Council for Geoscience (CGS) South Africa is the permanent Secretariat of the OAGS. The meeting was graced by the South African Minister of Mineral Resources, Mr Mosebenzi Zwane, the Nigerian Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, and the Senegalese Minister of Mines and Energy, Mr Aly Ngouille Ndiaye. In addition, the ceremony was also attended by representatives of the African Union Commission, Mr Frank Dixon Mugyenyi and the head of Raw Materials at the European Commission, Mr Mattia Pellegrini.

The outgoing President of the OAGS, Ms Anna Nguno (Namibia), gave a presentation on the organisation’s performance, challenges and achievements during her tenure. This was followed by a welcoming address by the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mr Mosebenzi Zwane. Minister Zwane highlighted the important role that geoscientific knowledge plays in economic, infrastructure and agricultural development, energy security, medical geology, geohazards and environmental stewardship. He attributed the slow pace of socio-economic development in Africa to its gross undermapping and the limited knowledge of its true potential. Furthermore, Minister Zwane applauded the establishment of the OAGS as it will compel African institutions to shift from prolonged international dependence that has dictated the pace and form of development in the continent. He concluded by asserting that the OAGS is crucial in steering towards complete international independence through advising, influencing and directing decisions of African leaders that will seek to define and captain the development of the continent.

Dr Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Mines and Steel Development (Nigeria) reiterated the pivotal rolethat the OAGS will play in ensuringthatAfrica’s mineral endowments work optimally for the people of Africa. He went further by acknowledging that Africa could have fared better in leveraging its mineral resources to drive sustainable development, and address its pressing socio-economic challenges. He commended the establishment of the OAGS ingenerating, archiving and disseminating geoscience data as the organisation holds the keys to unlocking the entire mining value chain and industrialising Africa. Minister Fayemi asserted Nigeria’s commitment to the OAGS and the African Mining Vision (AMV) and reminded all member states of their collective responsibility to ensure that the OAGS becomes a strong contributor to achieving the desired objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) captured in the AMV. In conclusion, Minister Fayemi thanked the members for the election and assured all that Nigeria will offer purposeful direction and leadership. He also expressed his profound appreciation to Minister Zwane for putting the services of the CGS at the disposal of the secretariat of the OAGS.

by: P.J.A. Bosch, N. Moabi and S. Makubalo

1: Introduction

A report on a possible hazardous underground fire at Sehlakwane (see attachment) was received by the Council for Geoscience on 28 July 2016.

On receiving the details of the report, P. Bosch, N. Moabi and S. Makubalo decided to investigate the occurrence. The immediate thoughts on the details provided were that the area was or is underlain by naturally occurring peat and that it is possible that this peat has dried out due to the prolonged heat and drought. It is therefore possible that the peat may have caught fire. The extension of this possible peatland is not known and it might be that it extends into occupied property within the area. It was decided to investigate the area as soon as possible to determine whether in fact it is peat burning and if it is of concern that it might extend to occupied property. The following preliminary actions were proposed: A trench or trenches should be excavated in the vicinity (with safety as a concern) of the area that is burning to establish the nature of the material that is burning.

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The Fossil Fuel Foundation hosted a one-day conference with 11 presentations covering various economic aspects of gas development in South Africa, gas reserves in southern and eastern Africa, coal gasification, legislative and regulatory developments for gas exploration and production, and climate change.

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