Africa's vast mineral resources remain untapped - Summit told

Environment CS Soipan Tuya (centre) speaks with PS Interior Raymond Omollo during the Africa Climate Summit at the KICC on September 5, 2023. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Africa, the world's richest region for renewable energy potential has a vast untapped resource to drive sustainable development and industrialization.

The Africa Climate Summit 2023 served as a platform for fruitful discussions on the Africa Green Minerals Strategy (AGMS) and its potential to reshape the continent's economic landscape.

At over 5500 exajoules per year, Africa boasts 44.8 per cent of the world's total technical potential for renewable energy.

With the urgent need to industrialise and enhance economy-wide productivity, reliable energy is paramount, especially for priorities like food and water security.

To meet these demands, Africa must diversify its energy sources, with a growing focus on renewable energy alongside fossil fuels, particularly natural gas.

Speaking at a side event during the summit, Paul Jourdan, emphasized AGMS's alignment with key frameworks such as the Africa Mining Vision (AU 2009), the Africa Commodity Strategy (AU 2021), and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

He highlighted the importance of "green" minerals, including aluminium, chromium, cobalt, copper, graphite, iron-steel, lithium, manganese, nickel, Platinum Group Metals (PGMs), rare earth elements (REEs), vanadium, and zinc, which are central to AGMS.

Jourdan proposed essential instruments for AGMS implementation, such as the Green MSC Local-African Content (LAC) System and the AfCFTA Configured Green Mineral Value Chains (MVCs) Common External Tariff (CET). These initiatives aim to promote local content and enhance value addition.

Chiumya Chiza Charles, Acting Director for Industry, Minerals, Entrepreneurship, and Tourism at the African Union Commission (AUC), stressed the need for a practical approach to resource-based industrialization.

He highlighted AGMS's role in fostering policy coherence within AfCFTA and the intention to reinforce the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC) with a dedicated Green Minerals section.

Dr. Marit Y. Kitaw, Interim Director of AMDC, emphasized Africa's substantial mineral reserves, including critical resources like chromium, cobalt, and manganese.

She expressed optimism that AGMS could leverage these resources for the benefit of African citizens while aligning with the Africa Mining Vision.

Dr Kitaw noted that the Africa Climate Summit 2023 served as a catalyst for a renewed, resolute, and unified African vision centered on climate resilience, fair development, and a just energy transition.

Antonio Pedro, Acting Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), discussed AGMS's focus on strengthening Africa's capacity for resource identification through geological surveys.

Pedro highlighted the importance of ownership and access to markets, emphasizing the need for informed policies to promote value addition and market creation, particularly among Africa's youth.

In his remarks, Prof Kevin Chika Urama, Chief Economist and Vice President at the African Development Bank (AfDB), underscored the urgency of redefining Africa's natural resource usage, citing AGMS as a pivotal step in this direction.

Dr Marit then made a significant announcement regarding the "Launch of the Africa Green Minerals Strategy." She also informed the plenary that the draft of Africa's Green Minerals Strategy would be considered by African countries' Senior Officials and Ministers during the 4th Ordinary Session of the Specialised Technical Committee of Trade, Tourism, Industry, and Minerals under the theme.

"Enhancing Africa's Trade Competitiveness through Industrial and Mineral Resources Development and Tourism," to be held from October 2-7 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.

The high-level dialogue at the Africa Climate Summit 2023 provided a platform for fruitful discussions on Africa's Green Minerals Strategy and its potential to drive sustainable development and industrialisation across the continent.

As Africa takes strides towards a greener and more prosperous future, the AGMS stands at the forefront of this transformative journey.

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