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Submitted by Abiodun Adeloye on
Should Africa Export Natural Resources? Patrick Bond’s statement is quite correct “ that extraction has not been beneficial to Africa.” I wish he had explained further to indicate his disagreement. Infact Shanta Devarajan too is correct but the issue is more than what he said here. Taking a cue from Patrick, one needs to wonder the Dutch merchants that dominated RSA and subjugated the South African blacks. RSA has plenty of diamond and gold. The soil is fertile with good terrain. What did the South Africans do with the wealth from the ground?....of course develop RSA to the benefit of the white and the blacks were put to years of unjust treatment. The other. The developed countries are smart to locate where certain treasures lie in Africa. And what they do is to come to purport that they want to get the African country some help usually out of poverty, war or political crisis. The settlement for the “help” is the natural resources of the country. It will be removed in large quantities. Usually the leaders in such African country settle for the release of the natural resource without making the citizen know the arrangement. The luminaries in the country who have knowledgable may even not be aware of such an arrangement by the government. Added to this is that the big-shots in the country again would steal some of the revenue and add it to their wealth. In this situation, the citizen is not getting the benefit of the extraction of the natural resources. What the developed countries use as reason for offering such help are problems caused by the leadership in the African countries. This leads to Shanta Devarajan’s “many African governments have not have not used the revenues from these resources productively. Added to it is corruption of high order in high places, lack of foresight to establish processing industries to part-process and enhance the value of the mined commodity. Governments in Africa for a long time have been occupied by high school drop-outs who then join the military. Such that have little grey matter and would take genuine and realistic comments for opposition, and before you say “Jack Bobinson” the citizen that makes the comment is either killed or jailed or, by luck exiled. These days, educated, well-meaning leaders are surrounded by rogues looking to fill their pockets. The government has the responsibility to provide the amenity for the citizen regardless of status. These are good roads, effective transport system, uninterrupted electricity in the right voltage, portable water and policy that protects the right of the people. These are never provided. Apart from RSA the countries in Africa today donot have the Internet facility found in the developed countries. The IT that abound in Europe and America today is found in the Arab countries who do not produce this facility but buy it. Why can’t countries in Africa buy it also? Why can’t the countries by the technology? It is not that some of the countries cannot afford it, but the fund, is either misappropriated or the government purchases poor quality stuff from the developed countries. Such stuff is most of the time obsolete and there will be no parts to maintain the equipment. There is a lot that one can mention but the underlying problem of non-productive use of the wealth of the extracted resources is misappropriation by a government which head and executives are not faithful to the citizens. Africa can export its natural resources but it needs realistic planning for value addition through some processing before selling it out. There is need for planning to make the proceeds utilizable for the citizens. Good amenities like good roads, uninterrupted electricity, strong and reliable Internet connectivity and security are the needs. The low income earners and less priviledged should be cared for. Education should be guaranteed for everybody.