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Africa must move wisely on resources

17th November 2011
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Editorial Cartoon

As Africa focuses on its development needs, the world economic powers, scrambling to control strategic resources around the world are keeping a close eye on the continent’s resources.

The continent is being closely watched because it contains most of the minerals, such as oil, gas and an assortment of strategic minerals which are just now being developed and thus are yet to be intensively exploited.

An expert who has been following the global economic trends notes that properly harnessed, the resource discoveries now happening in Africa are the biggest opportunity for good that Africa has ever had and is likely to have.

Oxford economist Paul Collier's in his latest book, The Plundered Planet says: “The next decade is going to see a huge amount of value extracted from Africa – not only because of high commodity prices but because Africa is the last frontier for resource discovery.

With high commodity prices, that stuff is going to be discovered by hook or by crook. The challenge is to stop it being done by crook – stop the appalling history of plunder repeating itself.”

The caution issued by the economist is not only timely, but if heeded will be the cornerstone on which the continent can hope to build its prosperity and assurance that those natural assets under the ground benefit all its citizens, present and future.

But the expert does offer more food for thought, by observing that

many African countries hardly know the extent and setting value to their mineral resources, advising them to take advantage of a World Bank funding public to gather the relevant geological information before starting negotiating with companies.

We see the relevance of the expert’s arguments to enhance and extract maximum value for the future prosperity of the continent,

following the advice given to the government on ways to enhance value from its mineral wealth.

Besides moving quickly to establish the true value, negotiating more skillfully to extract maximum value, the government needs to also exploit the full potential of the assets.

Without doubt, the issuing of the certificates of origin are a beginning of such a process, but more needs to be done.

We know that through the Minerals Act, 2010 Tanzanite mining is only for Tanzanians and that foreign partnership should be only to secure advanced technology. Indeed as pointed out by the deputy minister for Energy and Minerals, Hon Adam Malima under such circumstances the advisory board created by the ministry can invite an investor to establish a joint venture with local miners.

We also know that there are moves to unite small miners so that they undertake mining using advanced technology. The government is also working to create an enabling environment for them to engage in the mining trade and help them to secure markets.

The country has committed itself to creating the infrastructure to enhance value addition locally. This needs to happen faster, so that many more Tanzanians can benefit from the jobs likely to be created and the extra revenues that will flow from the additional activities.

Only through such innovative approach, can African countries hope to benefit from the abundant resources under its soil.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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