Editorial

New mineral wealth on the rise

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According to the latest Africa’s pulse, World Bank’s analysis new discoveries of oil, gas, and other minerals in African countries will generate a wave of significant mineral wealth in the region.

The economic importance of natural resources is likely to continue in the medium term in several established oil and mineral producers, thanks to the sizeable stock of resource wealth and the prospects of continued, high commodity prices.

“Resource-rich African countries have to make the conscious choice to invest in better health, education, and jobs, and less poverty for their people because it will not happen automatically when countries strike it rich,” says Shantayanan Devarajan, the World Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa, and lead author of Africa’s Pulse.

The region’s established oil producers represent less than 10 percent of the share of global reserves as well as annual production. Nigeria, the largest regional producer, can keep supplying at 2011 levels for another 41 years, while Angola, the second largest producer in the region, has about 21 years remaining at current production levels before its known reserves are depleted.

“Gabon, for example, with a per-capita income of $10,000 has one of the lowest child immunization rates in Africa.”  Devarajan said

Given the size of these reserves, it is likely that the dependence on oil resources in these countries is likely to continue in the near to medium term. Production in new mineral countries such as Ghana, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Uganda could last for a substantial number of years as well.

African countries share in global reserves and annual production of some minerals is sizeable. In 2010, Guinea alone represented over 8 percent of total world bauxite production; Zambia and the Democratic Republic Congo have a combined share of 6.7 percent of the total world copper production; and Ghana and Mali together account for 5.8 percent of the total world gold production.

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