UN agency urges African countries to invest in mining sector

By: IMMACULATE KARAMBU

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) wants African governments to create more direct and indirect jobs through extractive industries to drive prosperity.

According to the media, oil, gas and mining industries currently account for just one per cent of the continent’s workforce, which is not sufficient to promote economic growth and bolster social inclusion.

The push for increased employment opportunities came up during an oil, gas and mining conference held in Khartoum, Sudan, organised by Unctad, which ended Thursday.

It brought together experts and industry players as well as policy makers from around the world to explore potential for exploration and production of oil, gas and minerals in Africa.

“The benefits that the extractive industries could bring to developing countries include revenues for host countries through production sharing agreements, royalties and income taxes. The development of the extractive industries could also generate wider economic benefits and promote inclusive growth and sustainable development,” said Unctad in a statement.

The UN estimates that in Africa, only five million jobs are created for the over 12 million young people entering the labour force annually.

Africa is home to eight per cent of the world’s oil and gas reserves.

The United States Geological Society also ranks the continent second in its share of world’s reserves of various metals including industrial diamond, rutile, ilmenite and zirconium, among others.

Given their capital intensive nature, extractive industries do not create many direct jobs.

However, they offer opportunities for support industries such as catering, logistics and security, among others, which absorb a large pool of workers.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION