There is so much hype concerning mining across Africa at the moment (and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon) but here is my question; is it realistic to expect mining to become an engine of development throughout Africa?

It’s clear that until now mining and development have not necessarily gone hand in hand. Present times are starting to reflect that industrialisation can come out of natural resource endowment. Africa produces over 10% of the world’s minerals by value but the need for “real” development

For Africa, mining does have one distinctive advantage when it comes to unleashing development potential. It is only mining that can mobilise the necessary investment required to construct the infrastructure needed to access inland resources: road and railways need to be constructed, power and water laid on for any kind of large-scale mining to take place.

This alone doesn’t necessarily lead to development – often mines have operated as enclaves – but it does provide an opportunity for making use of this same infrastructure to open up other, less valuable, stranded resources. For example agriculture, agri-business, forestry and tourism can all become possible, as long as suitable infrastructure is available.

Many establishments across Africa are developing policies that shapes mining-specific investment so that it can best add to broad-based development. Crucial to this strategy is the idea of development corridors.  Corridors broaden out transport links so that they take in important natural and human en route. They provide a trade super-highway inside of which clusters of mutually supporting enterprises can grow.

The implications of the Vision for developing African mineral policy may be summarised in the following objectives:

  • Enhancing retained value by promoting linkages
  • Obtaining an adequate share of mineral revenue
  • Improving public participation and accountability
  • Pursuing an integrated view of rights of various stakeholders
  • Valuing environmental resources
  • Using mineral revenue efficiently
  • Promoting local development
  • Encouraging regional cooperation and harmonization
  • Strengthening institutions: building capacity and developing networks