The great commodity riches of Africa are legendary. African oil, African diamonds, African gold, African uranium, platinum, chrome, gems such as emeralds, sapphires, rubies, as well as food stuffs such as cocoa, the ever useful cotton plant, edible oils and numerous other commodities, far too many to mention here.
Africa is responsible for given the world some of its most popular and useful foodstuffs. For example did you know that Africa was the home of the watermelon, of okra? Let us not forget delicious seafoods such as lobster, many varieties of fish and shrimp that are plentiful in the waters of Africa.
Did you know that African woods are among the finest in the world. Woods such as ebony and mahogany head the list.
Let us examine a few of these commodities. Take gold for example. Gold can be found in several African areas,Ghana, Zimbabwe... but the largest source of gold is Azania (aka South Africa).
One South African gold dealer boasts (Gold Eagle - South Africa Section) Since 1886 South Africa has been the Gold Producing Mecca of the world. ... Today, South African gold mines supply about 25% of the world's yearly supply...
Azania (South Africa) is also one the leading sources of diamonds. Everyone knows the importance of diamonds and of course we all know about the recent controversy of "conflict" diamonds, diamonds illegally traded by unscrupulous agencies working out of Europe, the US and Israel.
You have probably heard less about the fact that areas such as Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria are excellent sources of emeralds. (Here is it important to make a distinction between emeralds that are found in Africa and a gem stone called African Emeralds which is a green gem that is not an emerald.)
Did you know that areas such as Tanzania and Kenya are the source of rubies that are among the world's finest stones and in many instances sapphires also. But these riches have not enriched Africans. This essay on the theft of wealth from Tanzania is sufficient to serve the point:
When it came to the endowment of natural resources, nature was not stingy to Tanzania. We are told there is petroleum in Pemba, gold and other precious metals on the Mainland, including a gemstone that is unique to the country - tanzanite.
This is not to mention marine and forestry resources, arable land and water bodies. Tourist attractions are also phenomenal, including the highest peak in Africa, Kilimanjaro.
Historical sites, abundant and varied wildlife ... the list is endless. It is a surprise, therefore, that Tanzania is a virtual basket case in the global context, instead of being a breadbasket.
That, however, is gradually being unravelled through lurid, kaleidoscopic revelations by parties who have the interests of the country at heart. The problem is not lack of resources. It is a question of ineptness, mismanagement, sleaze - or a combination of all three.
Take, for example, the minerals sector. A recent document by the Lawyers and Environmental Association of Tanzania (LEAT) has laid bare shocking statistics. In its July 28 letter to President Jakaya Kikwete, LEAT revealed that Tanzania has lost around $755 million in the past five years over "deals" that led to the operations of three major mining companies... it cost the Kahama Mining Corporation (Sutton Resources) a mere $3,000 to evict 400,000 artisanal miners from the Bulyanhulu auriferous area.
Three years later, the company sold that property to Barrick Gold for a whopping $280 million. Canadian Samax Gold Inc acquired the Lusu Goldfields in Nzega District and later sold them to Ashanti Goldfields for $213 million.
On September 1, 1998, Ashanti sold the property to Resolute Mining Ltd of Australia. Afrika Mashariki Goldmines of Australia displaced artisanal miners, farmers and other residents in Tarime District in Mara region to acquire their land and other properties... the company sold its new acquisition to Placer Dome for $252 million.
In due course, Placer Dome was itself acquired by Barrick Gold, making the new entity potentially the biggest gold producer in the world.
The point here is that the companies acquired the three mining properties at Bulyanhulu, Lusu and Tarime for a song. They later made millions of dollars through merely selling them among the mining fraternity, all foreign. In the event, the original owners of the property - the locals in particular, and Tanzanians and the nation in general - ended up the losers.
taken from a column by Karl Lyimo "The East African" August 22, 2006
It has been demonstrated consistently that African strategic metals such as the platinum group are absolutely vital to modern state power. The Outline Thesis statement of the US Marine study U.S. Reliance On Africa For Strategic Minerals, reads as follows:
Since World War II the United States has become increasingly dependent on imported strategic minerals. A major source for many of these minerals is Africa, a volatile region in which the possibility of a major disruption of U.S. mineral supplies is distinctly possible.
U.S. Reliance On Africa For Strategic Minerals
The Marine Corps Command and Staff College Quantico,
Virginia Major R.A. Hagerman United States Marine Corps
April 6, 1984
In a recent newspaper article we find the following tell-tale assertions:
... The world's appetite for minerals is rapidly growing.
Copper is sought after for use in power transmission and generation, building wiring, telecommunications, and electrical and electronic products. Cobalt is used in super-alloys to make parts for gas turbine aircraft engines and demand is continuing to soar as it is used for rechargeable batteries in globally popular mobile phones and devices.
It is also used to make magnets, tire adhesives and catalysts for the petroleum and chemical industries.
The price of copper has quadrupled since 2001, standing at 7,603 dollars per tonne in May this year.
World production of copper is expected to increase by six percent and total use by five percent in 2006, with the areas on the border between DRC and Zambia playing a major role.
The so-called copperbelt running through Katanga and Zambia contains 34 percent of the world's cobalt and 10 percent of the world's copper. Since 2004, there has been a massive influx of foreign companies pouring into Katanga on the DRC-Zambia border.
The study says operations have been marred by price fixing in contract negotiations in the capital Kinshasa, where politicians have quickly approved several large contracts with multinational companies, leaving only a small share for the state mining company, Gécamines.
The Kamoto copper mine, the Dima-Kamoto Concentrator and the Luilu hydro-metallurgical plant are one example, with Kinross-Forrest inking a deal with Gécamines that gave the former a 75 percent share and Gécamines 25 percent. The main shareholders of Kinross-Forrest are George Forrest International in Britain and the Canadian company, Kinross Gold Corporation. International companies have been returning to the country prompted by high copper and cobalt prices...
Those companies and banks include the Canadian mining firm First Quantum Minerals Ltd, the Rand Merchant Bank in Johannesburg, and Adastra, a Canadian company with its head office in Britain.
The report also examines the ties between international mining firms and global public lenders such as the World Bank. It says the World Bank is involved in copper and cobalt mining in DRC and in promoting foreign investment despite classifying the country in one of its publications as the worst country in the world in which to do business.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank's private investment arm, has provided financing for a feasibility study carried out by Adastra, which is hoping to establish a copper and cobalt project in Kolwezi.
The IFC now has a 7.5 percent stake in Adastra's project that was taken over by First Quantum, another Canadian mining company.
The report called on private companies to help reform the sector and declare all mineral exports, pay the appropriate taxes and ensure that the working conditions of the estimated 150,000 miners who supply them meet minimum health and safety standards -- or refuse to buy products originating from those mines.
The average miner in Katanga earns about two or three dollars a day. Most work without protective clothing, equipment or training, and scores die every year in preventable accidents, the report says.
"We know that the Congo is rich. But despite this, we don't even have enough to eat. Only one category of people profits," one miner told Global Witness.
"D.R. CONGO: Minerals Flow Abroad, Misery Remains"
Emad Mekay WASHINGTON, Jul 5 (IPS)
The astute President Nkrumah observed constantly with all this wealth there is no reason why African people should be poor. As he said in I Speak of Freedom A Statement of African Ideology:
"It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world.
"Although most Africans are poor, our continent is potentially extremely rich. Our mineral resources, which are being exploited with foreign capital only to enrich foreign investors, range from gold and diamonds to uranium and petroleum. Our forests contain some of the finest woods to be grown anywhere. Our cash crops include cocoa, coffee, rubber, tobacco and cotton. As for power, which is an important factor in any economic development, Africa contains over 40% of the potential water power of the world, as compared with about 10% in Europe and 13% in North America. Yet so far, less than 1% has been developed. This is one of the reasons why we have in Africa the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty, and scarcity in the midst of abundance.
"Never before have a people had within their grasp so great an opportunity for developing a continent endowed with so much wealth. Individually, the independent states of Africa, some of them potentially rich, others poor, can do little for their people. Together, by mutual help, they can achieve much. But the economic development of the continent must be planned and pursued as a whole. A loose confederation designed only for economic co-operation would not provide the necessary unity of purpose. Only a strong political union can bring about full and effective development of our natural resources for the benefit of our people."
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