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African Development Bank (AfDB) President Donald Kaberuka called for increased investment in innovation and knowledge-creation to create new wealth on the continent.
"Inherited wealth will disappear one day, and we need to invest in new wealth which will last longer,” Kaberuka said during a panel meeting called "From Inherited to Created Wealth: Natural Resources Management" on Tuesday, May 20 at the AfDB Annual Meetings in the Rwandan capital of Kigali.
In his speech, the AfDB President went on to say that "Africa certainly wants to attract investors to help exploit its natural resources, but that policy must not be at the expense of local people." Kaberuka believes that the sustainability of investments must be ensured, especially in the mining sector, saying that "Africa is starting to become a natural resources area of choice.”
Recognising that the management of natural resources is difficult for African governments, Sir Paul Collier, Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford, noted that the stability wished for in the conduct of contracts depended on the manner in which they were made.
He believes that the interests of local populations must be taken into account when mining contracts are made.
"Mining companies have now understood that it is in their interests to build infrastructure that can be used on multiple ways, to the benefit of local people", explained Collier.
"Modern mines do not employ many workers, so local people could benefit from this infrastructure," he added.
Conscious of the many issues and interests involved in the operation of mines and exploitation of other natural resources on the continent, Kaberuka recognised that pitfalls may arise when contracts are made with mining companies and others, but one can always try to avoid them.
He took this opportunity to announce the creation within the Bank, four months ago, of the African Natural Resources Centre (ANRC) whose goal is to "provide, in a coordinated manner, regional member countries with real-time advice and technical assistance, and to build their capacity.” Guinean Minister of State for Mines and Geology Kerfalla Yansane said he was optimistic about a rational use of natural resources, asking one and all to learn from the past, particularly about the opacity surrounding some mining contracts.
He announced that in the interests of transparency the Government of Guinea has decided to put all mining contracts made with foreign companies online. Moreover, the Guinean Parliament has also undertaken to approve all mining contracts.