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Rethinking Natural Resources In Southern Africa

Book/book chapter

Despite its rich endowment of natural resources, Africa remains one of the poorest continents in the world. Many African countries experience the ‘double trap of resource-based nations,’ namely that a continued reliance on the export of finite and diminishing natural resources also result in continued environmental degradation. Women, and particularly rural women, often bear the brunt of this unsustainable economic model.

Most analysts place the blame for these problems on Africa’s politics. While not discounting the role of politics, this book argues that historical economic distortions and mainstream economic models have played a major role in maintaining the predominance of natural resource-based exports in African economies, and the failure to move on to higher-value activities based on human ingenuity and skills. Given this, the growing global interest in Africa’s strategic resources poses both threats and opportunities.

The Institute for Global Dialogue commissioned research papers and held a workshop to investigate these questions and effective responses to them in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). They form the basis of this book, which raises a range of strategic issues, including the need for a better understanding of the internal and external forces that perpetuate conflict, market distortions, and ‘bad governance’ in the region; the challenges presented by the global demand for the region’s resources; and the need to identify a more sustainable growth path.

It outlines suggested roles for a wide range of actors – including government, civil society, business and industry, labour unions, research and academic institutions, and regional institutions – in changing consumption and production patterns, and moving towards a more sustainable development model.

Michelle Pressend, Timothy Othieno, Larry Swatuk, Jeremy Wakeford, Daniel Malzbender, Anton Earle. Edited by Michelle Pressend and Timothy Othieno