Is it realistic to expect mining to become an engine of development? It’s clear that until now mining and development have not necessarily gone hand in hand. Although experience in Scandinavia has shown that industrialization can come out of natural resource endowment, the story in Africa has been very different. Africa produces over 10% of the world’s minerals by value but remains poor despite a continuous and profitable history of mining that dates back to colonial times.
Nevertheless according to Africa Mining Vision (AMV) thinking, 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 built, power and water laid on for any kind of large-scale mining to take place.
This in itself 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 viable providing suitable infrastructure is available.
So part of the AMV strategy is to develop policies that shapes mining-specific investment so that it can best contribute to broad-based development. Key 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.
NEPAD has developed an indicative list of these development corridors across the continent, and most of these spatial development initiatives (SDIs) are mapped in relation to mineral resources.
The AMV identifies SDIs as “a practical way to achieve a regional approach to development, encouraging a sustained process of integrated development within a region defined by its economic potential rather than its political boundaries”.
Such SDIs can only be put in place through coordinated government planning [link to page]
The AMV seeks to shift mineral policy beyond a focus on extracting minerals and sharing revenue. It calls for structural transformation of Africa’s economies using Africa’s abundance and significance of its minerals as a springboard.
Source:Africa Mining Vision