Africa’s Mining Sector Development: An Industry Perspective
Africa has in the past decade benefited from continuously increasing investment in the mining sector and is becoming a fully-fledged player in the world economy as a result of the mining boom. Growth in demand for mineral resources coming from emerging countries has transformed Africa, which previously received little attention from the investment community, into a major mining destination for mining companies from Europe, North America, China, and of course South Africa. However, there is debate around what the benefits of mining are, and whether African governments have managed to capture a share of mining revenues and whether they will be able to use this revenue to support sustainable economic and social development on the continent. Africa has given rise to a number of global mining giants such as Anglo American (now based in London), Billiton (now BHP-Billiton) and Anglo Gold Ashanti. South Africa and Zimbabwe hold the bulk of global platinum reserves, and the Democratic Republic of Congo has huge largely un-tapped mineral wealth. It is important to highlight, however, that in addition to the continent’s huge reserves, Africa is also becoming a key industry player with countries like Botswana now leading the world in diamond production and sales. Developed countries have shown a heightened interest in Africa, because the continent is clearly a significant potential source of raw materials needed to fuel the demand coming from burgeoning industry. Clearly, it is imperative that Africa’s mineral wealth is tapped into in a sustainable and socially responsible manner. However, the contribution that the mining industry is making towards development is at times vehemently challenged. It is certainly true that the way in which the sector dominates certain national economies can sometimes hinder the development of other activities. The mining sector needs to build capacities of the next generation of mining professionals through collaboration between government, industry and academia. This paper argues for the role of academia in support of capacity building in the mining sector.
Keywords: Mining, Industry, Development, Africa