Africa’s impressive natural resource wealth should benefit more people, but increasing transparency from the global community and African governments will eventually help convert these resources into better lives for more people, the Africa Progress Panel’s Executive Director told the BBC.
Caroline Kende-Robb was talking to the BBC’s flagship news programme, Newsday, on Thursday, just before joining a Panel at the IMF’s two-day “Africa Rising” conference in Maputo, Mozambique.
“The panel that I am on is natural resources, basically oil, gas, mining, and timber,” she said.
“In many countries, the economy has not benefitted as a whole,” Ms Kende-Robb said. “We see great growth but that growth has not really trickled down.”
The Africa Progress Panel has consistently expressed serious concerns around Africa’s growing inequality, a major issue for other global regions too.
The 2013 Africa Progress Report warned that while natural resources have driven rapid economic growth, this growth has not benefitted enough people. It warned that Africa’s growing population would want to see jobs and opportunities from its natural resource riches.
The 2014 Africa Progress Report advised that two thirds of Africa’s population are engaged with agriculture and fisheries. Boosting these sectors therefore is an excellent means to reduce poverty and inequality. Africa also loses tens of billions each year to the illegal plunder of its resources, such as timber and fish.
“There are some issues of corruption in African countries, but there are a lot of global players who are facilitating corruption,” she said, referring to the use of tax havens, shell companies, and opaque transactions.
G8 and G20 leaders are moving to track better the money that is flowing around the world and African governments are becoming more transparent too, Ms Kende-Robb said, referring to Guinea, Zambia, and Ghana.
“Things are definitely changing in Africa and globally,” she added.