SEATTLE — To say Africa is sitting on a proverbial gold mine would not be an exaggeration. According to Oxfam International, the continent with the second largest number of hungry people is “endowed with about a third of the world’s mineral resources.” The African Development Bank Group estimated in 2013 that “the continent’s natural resources will contribute over $30 billion per annum in government revenues over the next 20 years.”
Here’s just a few examples from AFKInsider:
· The Democratic Republic of the Congo is estimated to have $24 trillion worth of mineral ore in their underground reserves. They continue to be leaders to producing diamond and copper in Africa to this day.
· Uranium makes up 40 percent of Niger’s mineral resources, measuring out to be 44 percent of the uranium supply in Africa. Its diverse mining industry includes operations extracting cement, coal, goal, gypsum, limestone, salt, silver and tin.
· One of the strongest emerging economies exists in the most mineral-rich country of the continent, South Africa. The nation leads the world in production of chrome, manganese, platinum, vanadium and vermiculite.
Many would say that Africa has more than just the potential to support the populations of its nations. Its mineral wealth could support growth and recovery in regions affected by conflict and destitution. The problem that cuts off the African public from its natural riches is corruption in the government which causes misappropriation of funding.
The African Development Bank Group reports that African nations are losing over $60 billion a year worth of the value of their mineral resources. The revenue from the extracted supply rarely finds its way back into the economies that produce it. These “enclave economies” see their funds go to entities offshore or squandered through illegal contracts.
Enter Oxfam’s Extractive industries Program and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Together, these programs seek to keep corrupt and dishonest governments responsible for their people. In a report covering Oxfam’s work in Africa’s mining industries, they cite their goal as “to strengthen the contribution of mining, oil and gas revenues to poverty alleviation in Africa.”
Some of Oxfam’s programs focused on the examples mentioned earlier in the article. In Niger, the Pan-African program fought against Areva, a French uranium firm, for the improvement of workers’ contracts there. In addition, activists supported by Oxfam continue to question “who is benefiting from the uranium?” as they expand their “Publish What You Pay” initiative to that area.
In South Africa, the organization is centered on tax reform and transparency particularly concerning the extractive tax and Davis Tax. A petition supported by an Oxfam committee protests the current system where “tax payers have paid 33 percent in personal income tax, while corporations pay 22 percent in corporate taxation.”
Oxfam, the African Development Bank Group and many other organizations continue to help Africa cash in on the wealth they’ve been given. The fact that populations go hungry and communities live in destitution is unacceptable, given the natural resources that local governments and corporations have at their disposal. It is time that the profits and funding from the mining industry be reinvested in the people that need it.
– Jacob Hess