Industrialisation and Trade Corner
Harnessing productive sectors’ through value chains to enhance intra-African trade and regional integration
Integrating Africa is the AfDB Group’s blog on regional integration in Africa. It chronicles the issues arising from African countries’ efforts as they work to pool resources and integrate their economies for the development of their regional and individual economies. Read More
As African resource-rich countries battle with the macroeconomic impact of the dip in global commodity prices, many look back at the 2004-2013 upswing in the commodity cycle and consider whether African countries, and their citizens, made the best out of them. Asymmetric information between governments and private investors, as well as weaknesses in designing fiscal frameworks are among the reasons why the benefits of extraction might have fallen short of expectations. How can African governments equip themselves to reap a larger slice of rewards when commodity prices start climbing again?
Closer economic integration is a prescription frequently advocated for the African continent, and enthusiastically endorsed by politicians and business alike. Accordingly, the continent does not lack integration schemes, generally dubbed ‘Regional Economic Communities’ (RECs) – 14 in all.
Turning extractive resources (mining, oil and gas) into development outcomes has proven to be a challenge for African governments and developing countries in general. The channels linking minerals in the ground with higher living standards are complex. This article sets out some thoughts that the authors would like to share and also, initiatives taken by the African Development Bank and the Collaborative African Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI) to help African governments on the issue.
The discovery and exploitation of oil, gas and mining usually brings in its wake high expectations of employment opportunities for countries where the resource extraction is taking place. However, there is often a mismatch between these expectations and the actual jobs that the oil, gas and mining sectors can offer. In practice, oil and gas, and to a lesser extent, mining projects in Africa often do not generate much employment locally. This is partly as a result of the capital intensive nature of extractives and, especially oil and gas projects.
Typically, there are two kinds of sovereign wealth funds: saving funds and stabilization funds. The latter is particularly pertinent in countries whose economies are overly reliant on oil and commodity exports, and whose revenues are volatile in nature. Other reasons for the creation of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) include war chests and, in the case of nations with an abundance of natural resources, a SWF can help to avoid the ‘resource curse’ or ‘paradox of plenty’. These are all valid ‘stabilization’ reasons for setting up a SWF. In Africa, however, stabilization reasons are not enough.
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