N'djamena — Central Africa is a mineral-rich sub-region, but the contribution of extractive industries to the development of other economic sectors is limited. This is one major finding at a meeting of experts in N'Djamena - Chad, to scrutinise a document drafted by ECA to serve as a reference framework for national extractive industry policies in the sub-region.
According to the document, in spite of the huge contribution of hydrocarbon resources to GDP and to the budget of a good number of Central African countries, there is still a very weak link with other sectors of the economy such as agriculture, and the social impact of the sector falls short of expectation.
To cope with this challenge, countries of the sub-region need to diversify mining production to minimise the industry's vulnerability to external shocks as well as strengthen the nexus between the mining sector and the other sectors through greater investment of mining revenues in the latter sectors. Other measures recommended include geological knowledge of the mineral potential to correct the huge information asymmetry that often penalises producing countries in their negotiations with potential investors; increased added value through more use of natural gas, processing of minerals and greater local participation in the industry's downstream activities as well as harnessing fresh opportunity windows opening up to the African mining sector in terms of funding and expertise, particularly partnerships between States, mining companies and multinationals.
"The time is now ripe for Central African countries to promote a veritable extractive industry that creates jobs and wealth," said Mr. Oumar Sinin, Chad's Minister of Energy and Geology who opened the experts meeting. While pointing out that 19 African States possess huge oil and gas reserves that could tip them into dependence on mineral exploitation subject to price volatility, Mr. Sinin called for a diversification of the economies of the said countries and those of Central Africa in particular, including his own country, Chad.
According to the Director of the Sub-Regional Office of ECA for Central Africa, Mr. Emile Ahohe, the N'Djamena meeting naturally flows on from the recommendations contained in the African Mining Vision jointly prepared by the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa and adopted by African Heads of State in 2009. To make the most out of their extractive resources, especially to contribute to structural transformation of their economies, countries of the sub-region must absolutely embark on cooperation as recommended by the African Mining Vision, he added.
The working document of this ad hoc meeting and its recommendations enriched by experts, shall be widely disseminated to decision-makers in the sub-region to be used as a reference framework for national extractive industry policies, which is in line with Africa's transformation agenda, supported by ECA.