#Spotlight

Interview of Mr. ESSAGA VICTOR STEPHANE, Executive Director of ARCMEP

  • Mr. ESSAGA, what is ARCMEP?

The proper appreciation of the wording ARCMEP to read “African Research Centre on Mines and Energy Policies” passes through a three – dimensional analysis that scrutinizes its teleological, contextual and legal aspects.

Regarding its aim, this Centre was set up to offer an adequate field of organization and promotion of the African legal, fiscal, institutional, contractual, geostrategic and environmental expertise in managing mining resources in their liquid, gaseous or solid form. 

The Centre was created in the context of an international geo-economic restructuration with a new positioning of great powers in the African continent that definitely stands as the main producer but whose infrastructural capacity in terms of training centers remains low.

In the formal sense, the Centre is a registered association governed by the rules and regulations of France and receives applications from people showing interest to mining and energy policies with an average university level and no restriction as to their origins.

  • What are ARCMEP’s working methods?

The Centre’s working methods are of the most recent scientific standard and operate alongside a fundamental principle according to which knowledge is a building process and not necessarily an accumulation.

From an appraisal of all current and pertinent issues, members are briefed on areas of scientific relevance on the one hand and according to experience and history of education they are classified in three categories on the other hand.

The work is organized on flexibility, adaptation and progress.

Flexibility operates once membership application is granted (registration is free of charge, see conditions in the website www.carpem.com), on the wording of topics (generally correspond to members’ areas of competence; others are inspired by internet) and on periodical meetings that are scheduled 45 days in advance.

The adaptation capacity has to do with all pedagogic methods selected to enable members to acquaint themselves of the recent burdens in the various fields under study, to provide them with the best dissertations of experts mostly of anglo-saxon background and definitely enhance training via a sound perusal and appraisal of provided documents, development of personal skills and self orientation as far as research topics are concerned.

From what precedes, ARCMEP definitely operates as a sui generis Training centre. The quality information so far transmitted to members has enabled them enhancing their capacity and developing new skills.

Progress as a key functioning item helps members to rise from the tutorial level to a confirmed autonomy illustrated by the self choice of centers of interest, self conception of intellectual potentialities and the final expression of one’s intellectual identity.

  • What are ARCMEP’s main centers of interest and concrete achievements since the creation?

The Centre’s major center of interest is international investment Law, precisely petroleum, mining and gas law as well as geo-economy, environment law, taxation and all other related institutional aspects.

We also develop interest from economists and encourage efforts towards real expertise in the field. This is explained by the scarcity of books and dissertations on mining or petroleum economy in Africa, even on specialized websites like www.amazon.fr . This is nothing but a disgrace for one of the most important producing continent.

The Centre recently produced an elaborate report on the Ivory Coast’s petroleum taxation that was forwarded to the competent authorities. This report clearly describes the prominent character of Ivorian energy policies and has inspired several similar works actually on drafting for three other African countries. This has also inspired the creation of new programs.

The Executive Director had as an example and foundation to publish two books in France:

– Hydrocarbon Laws. Handwritten collection of texts in 2013 which gathers 12 African texts all commented;

– The sources of hydrocarbon law in Africa, in 2018, which is his thesis defended at the University Paris 1 Sorbonne the same year.

Just after collective work was undertaken and realized by young researchers at CARPEM, notmmanet:

– A collection of 140 interviews of major players in the African energy industry, 660 pages long;

– A collection of cutting-edge analyzes in the African energy and mining sector.

    The purpose of these two collections is to provide primary information on these complex business sectors to all interested researchers, thus meeting the general objective of CARPEM to provide a credible and sound source of information and training.

  • Why is ARCMEP an opportunity young researchers?

The critical analysis of such an emerging initiative is twofold, taking into consideration the emptiness of the training field in our continent and the absolute necessity to revamp the situation.

On the one hand, the emptiness of the training field is established. Ordinary training systems (namely universities) offer no specialization in mining studies. Even countries with specialized schools like Nigeria and Algeria strictly offer engineering programs, rather than legal, institutional or economic trainings. This is quite unfortunate for a continent whose most appropriate branch of economic exposure is ‘Services’.

Knowing that the major branches of an integrated and complete economy are Finance, Technology and Services, Africans definitely have everything to win by focusing on the most suitable way of exploiting and exposing their natural resources. In other words they should focus on providing services.

This statement is as true as it’s obvious that without proper institutions and formal training opportunities, competition between African and international economies shall be evaluated on inequitable bases!

To that extent, ARCMEP offers to fill the subsisting gap by providing youths not only with a formal forum of information and self training at no cost, but also with an incredible opportunity to study the most recent themes in order to make pertinent proposals for Africa’s wellbeing. 

However, the urgent necessity of such an initiative takes its grounds in the need to improve on the management of vital resources, to direct African intelligence towards promising careers and promote self appreciation of current requests of political authorities, calling on the intervention, implication and ability of youths in meeting world challenges.

ARCMEP’s therefore aims at proposing relevant studies and solutions to African states undergoing a restructuration process, as management of local resources is of the essence. The centre has definitely settled its heart to raise, consign and propose normative, institutional and strategic alternatives to current management practices.

  • Who are ARCMEP’s partners?

The international Association of Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN) based in Houston (www.aipn.org) has officially recognized ARCMEP as a specialized training centre and has declared its members eligible to apply for AIPN’s students’ membership.

44 young Africans already have access to the most complete database in the world as far as dissertations and other publications on mining issues are concerned. Everything being equal, ARCMEP’s memberships shall rise to 200 by the end of 2020 across many African countries.

As far as collaborations are concerned, the centre has been working with several foundations and specialized institutions in Cameroon since 2008 namely ‘Fondation ANGO ELA’ and ‘Institut des Matières Premières’.

The National Hydrocarbons Company of Cameroon (SNHC) is in regular contact with our center and systematically buys our productions. The International Organization of La Francophonie has also given us consultant status since 2018, and CARPEM is in charge of designing and implementing a training course at the Catholic University of Central Africa from 2020.

  • A last word, Mr. Executive Director?

I would like to end with this quotation of one of my favorite singer of French nationality called “Grand Corps Malade”:

«The day has come for us to rise our ambitions high, to let everybody understand that time has come to make our dreams come true, to take off the sap and carve it on each dry stone wall. »

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