Can development minerals avoid abuses and fuel African growth? – by Kieran Guillbert (Reuters July 3, 2017)

DAKAR, July 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – On a continent better known for enriching colonisers and corporations by exporting its gold, copper and diamonds, so-called “development minerals” – ranging from limestone to granite – could help Africa fuel its own economic growth.

The sector, estimated by the United Nations to employ at least 8 million Africans, could create millions more jobs across the continent – many for young people and women – to meet a fast growing need for housing and infrastructure, mining experts say.

Development minerals refer to materials and minerals that are considered low-value – such as granite, gravel and sand – and are mined, processed, manufactured and used locally in industries from construction and manufacturing to agriculture.

“They are significant because the population of Africa is going to keep booming, with many living in urban environments,” Antonio Pedro, the Central Africa director at the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“The potential of these minerals for local economies is much higher than for metallic or precious minerals, as entry barriers like research and development, and capital, are lower,” he said. The European Union, the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations and the United Nations in 2015 launched a $14 million project to boost the fledgling sector and improve its oversight.

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