Arusha — Discoveries of uranium, oil and gas in East Africa could destabilize the region unless member states have in place meaningful plans on how to utilize and protect the resources from falling into wrong hands.
Some experts have warned that ineffective monitoring of mining and other resource operations could render them a curse for most African countries.
This was among the observations of a panel of experts who were discussing 'Opportunities for job creation and greater economy growth,' during the ongoing African Development Bank (AfDB) series of meetings taking place here.
The experts also noted that it was high time African countries refrained from leasing out such resources to foreign companies if the stability in the region was to be sustained.
"As long as they do not expire, the natural gas, uranium and oil deposits should not be tapped in haste until, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya where these resources are being discovered are ready and have trained their youth populations to work or invest in the minerals," stated Dr Semboja Haji Hatibu of the University of Dar-es-Salaam.
The alert comes following new discoveries of oil and gas deposits in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar as well as uranium in Tanzania, all of which need to be tapped. The don was of the view that with the rising numbers of young people in East Africa, as well as the entire continent; governments have no choice other than handing the remaining resources to the youth who should start making use of them.
"The time to hand our natural resources to foreign firms is over. It was a blunder to allow investors to tap our minerals in the first place and repeated mistakes will plunge our countries into chaotic states of helplessness," warned Dr Hatibu.
An African Outlook report, tabled at the AfDB meet indicates that between 2000 and 2008, despite world-topping economic growth rates, and a better educated youth population, Africa created only 16 million jobs for young people aged between 15 and 24.
The report shows that the youth represent 60 per cent of the continent's unemployed people and of these 40 million youths, 22 million have given up on finding jobs. Most of them are young women. "The continent is experiencing jobless growth", said Mr Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice-President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). "That is an unacceptable reality on a continent that has an impressive pool of youths, talent and creativity".
Meanwhile, Tanzania has thrown its weight behind the Ivory Coast's bid to reclaim the African Development Bank (AfDB) headquarters' seat, which was shifted to Tunisia following political unrest in the West African country two years ago.
"We fully support your move to retain the seat as we understand the unexpected and unfortunate circumstances that befell your country, hence it's only fair that the headquarters of the Bank return to Abidjan," said President Jakaya Kikwete in Arusha on Wednesday during a meeting with his Ivory Coast counterpart Alassane Ouattara.
According to a State House statement whose copy was made available to the 'Daily News', Mr Ouattara, who jetted into Arusha on Tuesday, hailed President Kikwete for his role in helping find a lasting solution to the political unrest in Ivory Coast.
President Kikwete was part of the African Union team formed to deal with the political conflict in the West African nation. Mr Kikwete is on Thursday scheduled to grace the official opening of the AfDB meeting.