Africa, a continent overflowing with wealth yet still punching below her weight, remains on a go-slow in tapping her fortune.
It’s a continent ubiquitously dotted with opportunities yet bedeviled and hemmed in by neglect, autocracy, corruption, complacency, and, resultantly, poverty.
The mere thought of where the rain started hammering us this much is excruciating.
Though Africa imports millions of tonnes of food to feed herself all year round, a whopping 65 percent of the world’s arable land is African! Though almost always thirsty, ten percent of the earth’s internal renewable freshwater sources are veiled under Africa’s soil.
Though reservedly, therefore, one may be pardoned for thinking that Africa is simultaneously the most resource-abundant and yet the poorest continent. It’s a covert web ensnaring all minds.
A spark of hope
Flickering from afar, yet moving with speed and already shaking and shoving off the decades-old complacency, is the rock-firm resolution to unleash Africa’s potential, open opportunities for young people through training and upskilling, churn minds to talk about the opportunities box which has remained locked for centuries, advocate for better policies around traveling and investing in Africa, and using the available keys, flash doors wide open for Africa to see the light.
The conversation, set on the move after last month’s Trans-Africa Investment Summit held in Kampala, Uganda, is mopping cataracts off investors, African governments and Africans’ eyes, capacitating them to see more opportunities and realize that as Africans, we have been our own impediment.
Under the stewardship of Prof. Robinah Nanyunja from Uganda, Women Africa Forum (WEF) Africa, a networking, business and investment space for all interested entrepreneurs continent-wide, organized and hosted a follow-up virtual meet-up on November 12, 2022.
It was a ringing bell that the time is now ripe for Africans to tap their mother continent’s treasures for the benefit of the whole continent, with the overflow being allowed to spill to other continents, yet not as raw materials, remember, but finished goods made in Africa.
Attended by entrepreneurs, strategists, activists, innovators, investors, trainers, startup and established organizations owners, among myriad other think tanks drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria and other African countries, the intellectuals were after solving the riddle surrounding Africa’s extensive opportunities and wealth.
“This meeting is meant to consolidate the successes, partnerships and collaborations of last month’s Trans-Africa Investment Summit and take advantage of the opportunities generated there to enhance our work and make greater impact,” she said.
Prof. Nanyunja is the Chair of Women Economic Forum Uganda and Pilot International.
“How can we exploit Africa’s minerals, grow a trained generation, change the mindsets of Africans and make them appreciate the abundance in Africa as well as get Africa into exporting finished goods made in Africa by Africans?” they envisaged.
The entrepreneurial spirit has to be enlivened.
Mr. Andries Komana, the meet-and-greet event Keynote Speaker, acknowledged that the ball is already moving down Africa’s field, never to stop.
Africa’s mining sector
Mr. Komana is the Director Komaas Group of Companies, South Africa, and the National Coordinator of WEF South Africa.
“African countries have the wherewithal to feed the continent with the goods and services manufactured in Africa; there is a need for investment financing, streamlining of the WEF structures for strategic alignment, skilling and capacity development, as well as trade and cooperation,” he noted.
He equally underlined the essence of offering a keener eye to Mining, Skills Development, Processing and Beneficiation, Logistics, Rail and Siding, Slotting, Shipping, Agriculture, Property, and Banking.
“To build wealth for posterity in Africa, we have to ensure that Africans have avenues where they can talk, and WEF is the best channel we have,” he acknowledged.
The laser-beam focus fell on mining, processing and beneficiation, where minerals are not just mined and exported or locally used; the economic value of the ore is improved by removing any valueless dirt, ingraining high quality on the minerals, even before releasing them to the market.
Africa’s mineral reserves accommodate 40 percent of the planet’s gold, up to 90 percent of the globe’s platinum and chromium, 12 percent of the world’s oil, and 8 percent of the earth’s natural gas treasuries.
Quoting the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Africa houses the largest reserves of diamonds, cobalt, platinum, and uranium, precious minerals used diversely.
In 2019, according to World Mining Congress, Africa alone produced nearly 5.5% (1 billion tonnes) of minerals valued at $406 bn.
Nigeria produced most of the continent’s petroleum (25 percent), followed by Angola (17 percent) and Algeria (16 percent).
The continent’s belly holds far much more, yet, the better part of it continues to be pocketed by foreign baskets.
Gold, iron, titanium, zinc, and copper are the top-produced minerals in Africa, with Ghana being the continent’s largest producer of gold, followed by South Africa and Mali.
Countries like DRC, Ghana and Nigeria, and bursting no one’s bubble, all African countries have not benefitted (significantly) from minerals mined from their own land.
Out of Africa’s 54 countries, South Africa generates the highest revenue from its minerals annually ($125bn), Nigeria follows suit ($53bn), followed by Algeria ($39bn), Angola ($32bn), and Libya ($27bn), according to mining statistics.
The five countries’ mineral production is over 66% of Africa’s mineral fortunes.
Most countries, however, have found themselves in the mercies of foreign mining agencies which, more than often, exploit Africa’s mineral safes, disorient Africans, destroy the environment and ungratefully hurry through the shadows.
According to Kyenpia Best, one of the virtual meet-up’s participants from Nigeria, foreign agencies have infiltrated neighborhoods in Nigeria, digging up the minerals in ways that deprive the locals of the benefits they deserve from their own products and leaving the environment unlivable.
Mr. Komana highlighted the need to confront such people in South Africa and continentally concerning better methods of mining Africa’s minerals by and for Africans in a bid to redeem the continent from foreign hands.
To consolidate the agreements further and chart a more transparent way forward on mining, he commissioned the WEF Chair, Prof. Nanyunja, to create an online group whose members will be drawn from African countries with different minerals concessions.
Producers, not beneficiaries
Congo, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Mali, and Nigeria are on the long list of such countries.
Research reminds us that in 2019, the Democratic Republic of Congo alone supplied approximately 63 percent of the world’s cobalt production.
Lithium and cobalt are critical metals in the production of batteries.
Regrettably yet redeemable situation, “In Congo, imports and exports are a cause of war, specifically, mineral exports,” says Prince Abenge from Congo.
He is the Chairperson Bahari Holdings SARL DRC, an organization focusing on mining, agribusiness, construction, mining consultancy, and imports/exports.
Mr. Kofi Dake from Ghana, recognizing that Ghana and South Africa are the major producers of gold currently, highlighted the need to add value to Africa’s natural resources.
“We need a coordinated approach to avoid losing our minerals, such as lithium and others,” he said.
He expressed his interest in spearheading the WEF Ghana for the conversation to permeate into all corners of Ghana.
The West African country tops the list of Africa’s gold producers, followed by South Africa and Mali.
To solve the challenges surrounding Africa’s mining sector, Mr. Komana recommends organizations and countries register their own mines with the Ministry of Mining and Natural Resources or relevant ministries in the specific countries.
“Mines, structures, and markers of wealth and other natural resources should be registered with relevant ministries, agencies, and investors for forthright accountability and ownership.”
Mr. Komana resolved to, in consultation with relevant partners, write a letter addressing the issues encircling the mining sector in Nigeria and Congo.
The thought leaders rightly confessed that Africa’s resources are so precious; to acquire them, involving local administrators, traditional leaders in areas under such leadership, and national governments would salvage the resources from unnecessary theft and misappropriation.
The Scholar Media Africa obtained an exclusive copy of a letter of intent, dated November 13, 2022, from Komaas Group of Companies Pty Ltd, a mining, training and upskilling entity headquartered in South Africa.
Mr. Komana, the organization’s chairperson and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Hat Training and Development Academy, a South African-based training institute, expresses the companies’ intent to work with African countries, through their governments, to train minds.
Spotlight areas will be Mining, Processing and Beneficiation, Logistics, Rail and Siding, Slotting, Shipping, Agriculture, Property, Manufacturing, ICT, and Banking.
“Hat Training and Development Academy will train 5 million people in the Continent through its programs, and 5000 trainers, assessors, moderators and material developers, a program that will run for three months, and thereafter, train 176, 600 per country and 19, 600 per province, which is a huge impact,” the letter of intent and proposal partially reads.
According to Prof. Nanyunja, to have WEF ideas afloat and its resolutions well-articulated to all ears, “We need a governing structure to formulate, validate and disseminate these WEF Programs.”
To keep the ideological movement up and running, Africa needs to be fully represented, a need that hasn’t escaped the eyes of the thought leaders.
“We look forward to working with leaders from across the continent, who we believe will identify entrepreneurs agitating for Africa’s progress. We anticipate more recommendations and referrals on more leaders for currently unrepresented countries in Africa,” articulated the Chair, Prof. Nanyunja.
As countries continue to underline different dates on the 2023 WEF Africa Events Calendar, The Trans-Africa Investment Summit will turn annual from next year, being primarily held in Uganda in the last quarter of every year.
Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and other countries anticipate holding national WEF Summits starting next year.
Interestingly, incalculable Africans are zealous to go beyond the round-table meetings, think beyond the boardroom walls, and implement the meeting minutes on the big books, pragmatically getting their fingers into the work for the success of Africa.
Africa’s entrepreneurial emancipation conversation continues.