Yet, with minor exceptions, Africa does not consume or add significant value to these and other mineral products that it has in abundance. Rather, we are net exporters of raw materials that fuel prosperity and development in other regions. Africa is largely seen as a price taker rather than a price-maker, with a marginal role in international trade.
These words are not mine but belong to Carlos Lopes writing for allafrica.com on his expose: “Africa must benefit from its resources.”
Africa rising is the new buzz word – a myth that is hardly supported by evidence on the ground.
Our problem is that the liberation struggle aristocracy has simply adopted the systems, values and institutions left by colonial systems. They have become the new emperors, protecting their self-interests at the expense of our people. They have become that which they fought against and abhorred and continue to blame imperialism for our poverty. They have cleverly reframed the problem in a bid to immunise themselves as the architects and cause of our socio-economic problems.
You only have to hear the intrigues in the Zimbabwe diamond sector, the machinations in the oil sector in Angola, Nigeria, Ghana and many others.
Lopes further states that ; “…the profits made by the same set of mining companies in 2010 was $110 billion – equivalent to the merchandise exports of all African LDCs in the same year. It is fair to say therefore that the resource-to-development model puts raw materials suppliers at a significant disadvantage. The conclusion that can be drawn from this situation is that the current resource-for-development model is not working to bring about equity or boost development.”
Against this backdrop, my dear friend Dr Martin Rupiya, in his paper to the United Nations University global seminar “Africa’s Natural Resources: Conflict, Governance and Development” titled “Natural Resources Management and Conflict Prevention: Case Study: Democratic Republic of Congo” revealed that;
“Since mid-2005, Africa has been in the throes of unprecedented discoveries of precious minerals and hydrocarbons (oil, natural, shale and methane gas) of unimaginable value. As testimony to this assertion are the bare facts. First, nearly a third of African states have become global oil producers—including Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan and soon to join the elite club, Ethiopia and Somalia amongst others. The early benefits of oil revenues have been revealed in Ghana, with the first sales made at the end of 2010 and already an average $2 billion dollars is flowing into treasury in a development that is predicted to continue to escalate over the next 30 years. In a telling acknowledgment of this development, in submissions made before the United States Council of Foreign Relations in 2006, officials admitted that Africa, and especially, Sub-Saharan Africa is ‘likely to become as important a source of US energy imports as the Middle East’.”
What an exciting future we have, but who will benefit from all this? What will be the hidden social cost to us ordinary people of Africa in the exploitation of all these resources? Will our communities benefit and to what extent?
I think that we all know the answers. Unless we see democracy first, we are likely never to see our economic emancipation. It is fact that democracy has a direct, obvious and positive impact on the quality of the life of citizens. Therefore, we ought to pursue it with all our energies.
In Zimbabwe, this fight must surely continue if we are to revive and transform our society. The predatory elite cannot continue business as usual.
I have often sat down and pondered and even asked God why men do what they do? Why is it that despite all the evidence we repeat the same mistakes in politics; we leave the responsibility of our future in the hands of men and women who do not appreciate or fathom their responsibility to take our continent into the future? We also buy their story that they too are victims and the white man is responsible for our suffering. Nothing can be further from the truth!
Why is it that it seems unprofitable to pursue good? Why do bad things happen to good people while those who do evil prosper?
I think we have a choice. We must choose to do good and the right thing despite all the stakes against us. We must fight for our rights and challenge this status quo fashioned by old men and women who fear the truth. We must fashion our future, ourselves.
The cost will be high and benefits delayed but I know that my God is just.- Vince Musewe is an economist based in Harare; you may contact him on [email protected]Post published in: Opinions & Analysis