ADDIS ABABA – Delegates from across Africa have called on their governments to ensure that the continent’s mineral wealth serves as its engine for growth and development.
The call was made, yesterday, at the opening of a two-day forum on the continent’s mining sector convened ahead of the second African Union ministerial conference for mineral resource development.
“We are all aware that Africa’s mineral resources fuel the development of many industrialised and emerging economies, yet Africa remains poor and underdeveloped and dependent on donor aid,” said Jean Noel Francois, the acting Director of Trade and Industry at the AU Commission.
Francois stated that Africa consumes very little of its own mineral resources and exports most of it in raw form with little or no local value addition, citing it as a major impediment to the continent’s socio-economic development.
“It’s high time African governments ensured that the mineral wealth serves as an engine of growth and development before minerals are depleted,” he asserted.
The meeting is held under the theme: “Building a sustainable future for Africa’s extractive industry from vision into action”.
According to Stephen Karingi, from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the continent’s mining regimes remain narrowly focused on direct export of strategic minerals to industrialised countries at the expense of Africa’s development.
“We should join hands to address this challenge. If not, Africa will remain poor despite its abundant natural resource wealth,” he emphasised.
Karingi said that the high earnings from the mineral wealth, over the last seven years, prompted countries like Australia and India to increase taxes on windfall earnings, yet in Africa, governments remain hesitant to do so fearing to frighten industrialised economies on whom they depend for donor support.
Masresha G. Selassie, the Director General, Geological Survey of Ethiopia, called for more concerted efforts towards the development of the African mineral resources to boost the growth of the continent’s economy.
“The development of the mining industry shall not be the end of the game, but the key question to be addressed is the utilisation of the mineral wealth in a way that benefits Africans and brings about sustainable development,” he noted.
The meeting brings together senior officials and experts in the mining sector across Africa and beyond.