Only in Africa can wealth be a curse, other than facilitate development; minerals have hastened our greed and bad habits.
In Nigeria they still import petrol when they are the 7th biggest exporter of crude oil and the 3rd biggest exporter to USA. You find a refinery that just has one part missing and yet whenever that part is supplied then another is destroyed; anything to keep the politicians who are importing petrol in business.
Hence you have uprisings in the Niger because citizens see no benefit from the environmental degradation caused by the oil industry.
In Zambia where the economy is based on copper-mining the results have been even more dire; a firm which mined $3 Billion worth of copper managed to get away with paying $50 million in tax and royalties.
This is because of the shady way in which multi-nationals are run; the mining company is owned by a firm based in an offshore haven such as the Cayman Islands, so the mining company sells the minerals to a parent company at a fraction of the price, then the parent-company sells it on the world market for its actual value.
African nations are often naïve or corrupt when it comes to dealing with multi-national corporations; the red carpet is often rolled out and the family silver is sold for peanuts.
Multi-national companies know how to play African governments and get whatever it is they want; ELF-Aquitaine, the French conglomerate had secret slush funds worth billions supplied by the Gabonese government.
Likewise any company doing business in Nigeria or indeed most African countries has to factor in corruption; in Rwanda we are lucky to have lower rates of corruption than most countries but the biggest mistake we can make is being complacent.
You often hear that there is little corruption in Rwanda but that is like a man who had a bath a few hours ago claiming to be clean; i.e. it is an ongoing process to root it out.
The minerals we have found can be blessing or a curse depending on our outlook; the Kivu Methane can either pay for our energy needs or cause division over generations.
Congolese people no doubt see their minerals as a curse and they would be better off without them because there is no social structure that allows the exploitation of minerals.
We have to see all the benefits of our mineral wealth; we often never thought that minerals existed in Rwanda that they stopped at our border but the more we look the more we find.
Mining is a fickle business; whereas mining firms were fighting over rights for dilapidated mines on the copper-belt, these mines are now abandoned as the price of copper has fallen with demand falling to a low.
We need to have value and need for our own minerals otherwise we’ll be subject to the whims of the market. One thing that I cannot understand about Africans is their lack of initiative; in Congo you can buy gold and diamonds in the market next to tomatoes and yet nobody has had the great idea of producing jewellery.
Imagine if one brought a professional goldsmith and jeweller to Rwanda and bought gold or diamonds legally and developed a jewellery business.
It is like in the Bible and the story of the talents; a master left his three servants with money equal to their ability, one got five talents of gold, another got two and the final one got a talent of gold.
The first two went and invested their money and used it wisely but the third went and buried it, when the master returned he called them to account. The first two had doubled their money but the third handed back the money to the master.
We cannot waste our blessings; Rwanda may not have as many mineral deposits as Congo but we have just enough to suit our needs, what will we say to God when we have to account for our talents?