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Date: 2024-05-19 Page is: DBtxt003.php L0901-FFD-TDUD-2018-040000
Turning Development Upside Down
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Chapter 4
Natural resources are potentially a constraining factor on community potential ... but not always. Abundant resources may facilitate development, but only if they are used effectively. The chapter describes all the other resources that go into a successful comprehensive success. The chapter shows how external resources should be used to complement local available resources to achieve maximum value adding.

Natural resources – badly utilized and depleting

Natural resources. What natural resources are there? How can local resources be used as an economic driver for the area? What is the natural economic potential of the area? What can agriculture do? Are their other local resources that have economic potential? Natural resources rarely deliver economic value to the local community. Far too often they are exploited in ways that make them a local liability and a huge asset for remote stakeholders. They get depleted without adequate thought to the future. The solution is to use natural resources to help improve the neighborhood economically and sustainably

Natural resources not well understood

Natural resources are abundant in the SOUTH. There is an oversupply of natural resources, and a glut of early stage value adding products based on natural resources. The terms of trade for the SOUTH has deteriorated dramatically over the past fifty years because of this abundance. Yet it is of enormous potential value for the SOUTH.

And there are some natural resources that are essential for the wealth and lifestyle of the NORTH, notably petroleum that come from the SOUTH. And resources like this should make success in development for the SOUTH much easier. But SOUTHs resources go far beyond just oil, there is every conceivable natural resource in the SOUTH, and this resource should ensure the success of development in the SOUTH

Natural resources

Natural resources are all over the SOUTH. The natural resources of the SOUTH should be the basis for great wealth.

But these resources are not serving to drive the success of development in the SOUTH

In fact, natural resources in the SOUTH are one of the major root causes of violence and death and destruction in the SOUTH.

The reasons are complex. Mainly because modern rules have become complex, and modern rules often have the backing of international law, maybe national law, powerful states, powerful companies, powerful individuals.

But modern rules do not necessarily bring equity and justice and fairness to any specific situation.

In the SOUTH, the rule of law often serves to make wrong legal. The rule of law often makes it possible for the NORTH to get what it wants for far less than is right and fair.

The ownership of natural resources has been an issue for centuries. The “commons” has been an important concept in the NORTH, but is even more important in the SOUTH. The “commons” was an idea in the American Indian tradition, and is an idea in much of the SOUTH. But the concept of commons in the NORTH has become subservient to the idea of private property and all the rights that go along with private property. And indeed, to the extent that property is public, the “rights” attributable to private property are usually applied, because these rights facilitate exploitative use.

The SOUTH has natural resources, but what value have these resources created as they have been exploited. The SOUTH is incredibly rich in all sorts of natural resources. Almost every mineral the world needs is available in the SOUTH, and all sorts of energy products. The SOUTH has land and water. The SOUTH has lumber, and exotic flora and fauna. The SOUTH has agricultural potential and rich fisheries.

But how much of these wonderful natural resources is creating wealth in and for the people in the SOUTH?


Undeveloped natural land

Agricultural land


Fresh potable water


The air we breathe


Minerals – bauxite

Energy – petroleum

Energy – coal

Energy – solar

Energy – wind

Energy – uranium

Energy – hydro




Bio-resources – fauna

Bio-resources – flora

Minerals – iron ore

Minerals – diamonds

Minerals - gemstones

Minerals – gold

Minerals – copper

Minerals – phosphate



Petroleum products are usually very expensive.


Electricity is also very expensive. There has been very little major capital investment in low cost technology for energy generation.


Constraints on economically viable resource exploitations

With generally high costs Sub-Saharan African businesses are at a severe disadvantage in the global marketplace.

At the same time, African businessmen and women are handicapped by lack of easy access to information about financial opportunities and the lack of micro-economic policies and institutions to take care of these sectors, greatly hinder access to capital.

The very few investment banks active in developing countries concentrate on more commercial activities (trade) more than investing in the machinery and equipment of the mining and industrial sectors.

All too often, information about possible funding sources especially those from the United States reaches the private sector in Africa long after they have been filtered through various government agencies. By the time the application gets to the people, deadlines are often past and the financing is no longer available.

Help in creating competitive feasibility studies and timely assessment of business opportunities is urgently needed.

Entrepreneurial training programs is very essential for graduates to become self employed.

Private sector in Africa and governments need to collaborate to improve the human resource development programs in Africa in order to produce dynamic business leaders for the future.

As business, trade and finance becomes increasingly globalized, the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa face the risk of becoming increasingly non-competitive in relation to the other continents. Some African governments have responded to these current economic challenges by carrying out structural adjustment that only creates higher levels of unemployment, poverty and social unrest.

While there is no miracle cure, the solution lies in creating opportunities that allow African business people the freedom and confidence in shaping their own future and that of Africa. The African business community must be given the opportunity to compete in the international arena. This will come about through education, access to information about business and financial opportunities and the ability to enter in direct business relationships with investors in key international markets and the United States.

Attempts to control the trade are so inadequate - says Global Witness - they border on 'astonishing complacency'.

Similar allegations are made about diamonds, with stones sent from Sierra Leone to Liberia and then on to Belgium.

Failure to enforce tighter regulation, says Global Witness, will ensure that terrorists and organized crime, will continue to rely on the trade in precious stones.

“The group came to trade in the rare gemstone known as tanzanite - a beautiful blue stone, only found in one tiny area of Tanzania” Global Witness
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