Thursday, February 06, 2014

Rich but Poor

Although Africa hosts about 30 percent of the world’s total mineral reserves and an even higher portion of the global deposits of diamonds, vanadium, manganese, platinum, cobalt and gold, the quality of life of citizens in sub-Saharan Africa ranks among the lowest in the world.

“Most communities involved in exploration have poor access to running water and electricity, community roads are neglected, and health and education infrastructure are inadequate for primary care and schooling,” the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) added.

Godfrey Kanyenze, the director of the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, questioned the appropriateness of the “Africa rising narrative” that has gained in popularity in recent years. “The 21st century has been declared the African century,” Kanyenze said, warning about “false dawns”. He referred to fears that foreign investors will exploit locals and that the continent will not be lifted (out of poverty) but looted.

Kanyenze noted that countries with the richest mineral resources, such as Angola, Botswana and South Africa, report the highest levels of inequality in the world. He said that in many resource-rich countries the higher export prices often only benefited foreign-owned oil and mining companies and small economic and political elites. These groups benefited at the expense of the public.

He noted that Africa’s share of global foreign direct investment (FDI) had in fact declined since 1970.

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