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Green Minerals: Africa’s Pathway to Sustainable Development

The rise in demand for electric vehicles, renewable energy, and batteries globally underscores the importance of “Green Minerals.” Africa, with its rich deposits of these minerals, stands at the crossroads of opportunity. The continent’s vast reserves offer a promising pathway towards green industrialization, setting the stage for Africa to make strides in development and play an active role in the fight against climate change.

Delving into Africa’s Green Potential and Strategic Roadmap

Africa is not just another continent; it’s a powerhouse when it comes to green minerals. A staggering 70% of the world’s cobalt, a crucial component for EV batteries, can be traced back to this region. But that’s not all; the continent is sitting on significant untapped mineral reserves, which, if utilized judiciously, could redefine its economic landscape.

Presently, Africa’s primary engagement with these reserves has been limited to exploration and extraction. This is a paradox, especially when one realizes the immense potential these minerals hold in accelerating the global transition to cleaner technologies. But why is there such a disparity?

The answer might lie in the global scramble. Numerous countries outside of Africa are in a race to develop their critical-minerals strategies. They are keenly eyeing Africa’s treasure trove, especially the rare earths that are so vital for sustainable economic growth and, surprisingly, national defence. In light of this, the African Union took a commendable step by establishing the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC). This initiative isn’t just about tapping into the mineral wealth. It aims to ensure that Africa’s strategic interests remain front and centre during this global rush.

The forthcoming African Green Minerals Strategy (AGMS) is not just a document; it’s a vision. It lays down a comprehensive roadmap for African nations, highlighting how they can harness their mineral reserves in a manner that is both sustainable and strategic. What’s interesting about the AGMS is its emphasis on green minerals. These are minerals that are pivotal for clean energy transitions and green industries, positioning them at the heart of the future global economy.

Crafting Africa’s Green Industrial Future

The seeds of a green revolution are already being sown in Africa. There are emerging sectors, like electric-vehicle plants, that are gradually making their mark. These are clear indicators of Africa’s latent technical and manufacturing potential. With the right policies, infrastructure development, and skill-building programs, there’s every reason to believe that this potential can be fully realized.

But what does the AGMS specifically advocate for?

For starters, it emphasizes the significance of enhancing local manufacturing. This isn’t just about reducing imports or boosting local economies. It’s about positioning Africa at the forefront of mining and processing strategic green minerals. By investing in local capabilities, the strategy envisions a more inclusive economic landscape, where thriving domestic industries directly benefit communities through employment opportunities and skill development.

There’s also a strong push for building more processing facilities within Africa. This is a strategic move, aimed at allowing African countries to climb up the value chain. The idea is to move away from being mere exporters of raw materials to becoming significant players in higher value-added production. This shift is not just about economic gains; it’s about resilience. It’s about ensuring that Africa can stand tall and confident in a rapidly evolving global market.

Furthermore, the AGMS lays significant emphasis on expanding Africa’s technical expertise. This involves channelling more resources towards research, development, and innovation. The ultimate aim? To make Africa a global hub for green technologies, thereby attracting talent and investment from across the globe.

For this vision to materialize, a coordinated approach is essential. This includes the introduction of common external tariffs on extraction inputs, processed minerals, and manufactured products. By facilitating trade and collaboration among African countries, such measures can incentivize practices that are environmentally responsible and sustainable.

The global appetite for batteries, electric vehicles, and renewable energy equipment is on an unprecedented rise. And Africa, with its rich mineral reserves, is in a prime position to claim a significant share of this clean-tech windfall. By actively integrating into these value chains, the continent can address some of its most pressing challenges, from energy deficits to transportation hurdles. The AGMS framework, in this regard, offers a holistic solution, tailor-made for Africa. It not only addresses the continent’s unique challenges but also aligns with broader global efforts to combat climate change. The future is green, and with the right steps, Africa can be at its forefront.

Feel free to contact the Energy Transition Centre today with questions. 

·  Julius Moerder, Head of Energy Transition Centre [email protected]

·  Oneyka Ojogbo, Head of Energy Transition Centre, Nigeria & West Africa [email protected]

·  Leon van Der Merwe, Head of Energy Transition Centre, South Africa [email protected]

Author: Memoona Tawfiq