AfDB gathers ideas for African Natural Resources Center strategy
The African Natural Resources Center (ANRC), a new initiative by the African Development Bank (AfDB), got a boost in ideas from stakeholders on Friday, May 29 during a consultative session held on the final day of the Bank’s 50th Annual Meetings in Abidjan.
The Centre that was established about a year ago is currently developing its comprehensive strategy for the period 2015-2020 that seeks to identify the key areas of intervention in order to provide better assistance to African countries in the management of natural resources – both renewable (water, forests, land and fisheries) and non-renewable (oil, gas and minerals).
During the consultative meeting, the ANRC’s draft was unveiled to a room full of stakeholders, civil society representatives, researchers and policy analysts from various countries in Africa.
It was the second of four consultative meetings that have been lined up to provide an opportunity for relevant stakeholders to have an input in the strategy that is expected to be a major initiative to help African governments improve their natural resource management for inclusive growth.
Sheila Khama, the Centre’s Director, explained the proposed five-year strategy to participants and received their questions and ideas, which she said will be considered and some incorporated in the final strategy that will be presented to the Bank’s Board of Directors for approval.
“The Centre will not solve Africa’s natural resource problems, but will contribute to finding solutions for them in close collaboration with stakeholders in natural resource management,” Khama said.
Khama said Africa is well endowed with natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable, which governments across the continent manage on behalf of the public; hence, the need to ensure that proper policies are passed and implemented for the benefit of all.
“The Centre’s strategy should be aligned to what many African governments are doing to better manage natural resources in their countries, we should add value to existing efforts not duplicate them,” she said.
Participants hailed the African Development Bank for a great initiative in the ANRC, noting that Africa’s natural resources have been the bedrock of the continent’s economy and continue to represent a significant development opportunity for her people.
For instance in 2012, natural resources accounted for 77 percent of total exports and 42 percent of government revenues.
But they advised the AfDB to ensure that the Centre collaborates with governments to process and add more value to many of these resources that continue to be exported in their raw form: something, many participants observed, that reduces the level of benefits for many resource-rich countries.
Also important among the ideas raised was the issue of contracts and the secrecy surrounding them with many governments not willing to share information regarding important deals with the public. Participants called on the centre to find ways of promoting transparency in resource management.
In response, Khama said involving people in resource management is paramount and said the Centre will work closely with civil society groups in individual countries by providing them with the information to help them engage governments on particular issues.
The first consultative meeting was held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for the East African region; the next consultation will be held on the sidelines of the forthcoming World Economic Forum on Africa 2015 to be held in Cape Town; while the last will held in Morocco.