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Africa fails to exploit high minerals prices to defeat poverty

Africa has failed to exploit the record rise in the global price of mineral resources over the past decade to conquer poverty, Ethiopia’s Minster of Industry Mekonnen Manyazewal said in Addis Ababa.

Speaking at the ongoing Eighth Africa Development Forum (ADF-VIII), the Ethiopian minister said though Africa is the largest global supplier of cobalt, platinum, chromium, gold and diamonds, the proceeds from the resources have not translated to better lives for the people of the continent.

The continent is also a significant supplier of copper, iron and coal.

While the prices of mineral commodities have increased by a factor of four, reaching their highest over the last 10 years, this has not led to a reduction in the daunting level of poverty in the continent, according to Mekonnen.

“Should we not expect that this (should) have made a significant dent on our poverty levels and underdevelopment,” Ethiopia’s Industry Minister queried Monday.

“In all honesty, it is fair to say that so far, Africa has lost out on this window of opportunity. Its poverty levels have continued unabated. Its infrastructure deficits and levels of its human development have continued to hamper any meaningful development that would make a difference to poverty and underdevelopment,” he said.

According to the Minister, the failure is common across all resources Africa has, including land, aquatic resources and forest.

On fisheries, African fish stocks are being daily depleted through illegal fishing while the rate of loss of forests is alarming, Mekonnen said.

“Sometimes we are our own worst enemy – 90 percent of our household energy needs are met from wood fuel. I understand that for many of our poor people, this is unavoidable, but this highlights the need to find sustainable solutions to using our forests.

”The solution to these problems is certainly in green growth and investment, but Africa is not taking advantage of it,” he added.

To this end, the Minister said Africa looks up to the ADF VIII to explore the challenges of Africa’s transformation based on the natural resources with which it is endowed abundantly.

An ECA flagship biennial event started in 1999 and organised in collaboration with the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank, the ADF VIII kicked off Monday under the theme “Governing and Harnessing Natural Resources for Africa’s Development”.

During the session, African leaders and decision makers will discus how best to utilise the abundant natural resources of the continent to improve the lives of its citizens.

They will also deliberate on various issues that broadly cover the role and use of mineral, land, forest and aquatic resources for Africa’s development.

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