The eighth African Development Forum (ADF VIII) has concluded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the adoption of a Consensus Statement suggesting ways to aid African countries in using their natural resources to promote people-centered development.
The forum, which was held on the theme: “Governing and Harnessing Natural Resources for Africa’s Development” focused on how to generate maximum benefits from the exploitation of Africa’s lands, minerals, fisheries and forests for the benefits of the people.
A release issued to the Ghana News Agency on Monday in Accra, said “transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development is the major challenge for African countries today.”
It said the Forum called for the implementation of the African Mining Vision adopted by African leaders in 2009, which sets out how mining could be used to drive the development of their countries.
These include strengthening policy, access, property rights, and investment in large-scale agriculture in line with the existing Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
It said Africa accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated arable land that need to be protected against rapacious speculation.
“According to the Consensus Statement, Africa ranks first or second in known world reserves of bauxite, chromite, cobalt, industrial diamond, manganese, phosphate rock, platinum-group metals, soda ash, vermiculite and zirconium. The continent is home to one-fifth of global gold and uranium supplies, while over 30 countries produce oil and gas in commercial quantity”.
On fisheries and aquatic resources, the Forum called for the strengthening of policies, legislation, strategies, investment and collaboration among states in various areas to develop the sector.
It said greater attention also need to be paid to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) action plan on inland, coastal and marine fisheries and aquaculture at the national and regional levels, adding that Africa loses a million tons of fishery resources estimated at over US $600 million annually to illegal and unreported fishing.
The Forum dwelt at length on the need for the sustainable exploitation and preservation of Africa’s forests estimated at 675 million hectares or 17 per cent of global forests.
The release cited policy, legal, regulatory, economic, governance, equity, knowledge, institutional and environmental constraints as critical to sustainable management of Africa’s forest resources with a developmental vision.
“Overcoming these constraints is key for attaining inter-sectoral linkages between agriculture, forest, industries and human settlement in Africa,” it added.
The ADF, a United Nations Economic Commission for Africa biennial event is convened in collaboration with the African Union Commission, African Development Bank, and other partners to establish an African-driven development agenda that reflects consensus and leads to specific programmes for implementation.
It is usually attended by some 1,000 participants including Heads of State and Government, African Member State policy-makers, development partners, other United Nations agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academia, civil society organizations, the private sector, eminent policy and opinion leaders, and the media. GNA