'I don't view Africa's resources as a curse': when it comes to the extractive industries, "local African communities have the right to expect respect for their environment. That's the bottom line," says Lord Boateng (pictured). "Respect for life, respect for water, respect for the patrimony, that's the number one thing." Stephen Williams interviewed him.

Author:Williams, Stephen
Position::Cover Story African Resources - Interview

LORD PAUL BOATENG, THE GHANAIAN-BORN BRITISH politician ennobled after having served as chief secretary to the UK Treasury and high commissioner to South Africa under Tony Blair's government, was one of the star speakers at the 2013 Africa Oil Week held in Cape Town, South Africa. Since stepping down from public office, Lord Boateng has taken up a number of private sector interests, acting in an advisory capacity and sitting on the boards of various charities, companies and institutions. As the UK's first black cabinet minister, his opinions matter; even more so when these days he pays closer attention to Africa.

Lord Boateng spent much of his formative years in Ghana, but was brought to the UK as a boy following the arrest and jailing of his Ghanaian father after the coup against President Kwame Nkrumah's government in February 1966.

Since leaving the world of politics and diplomacy, he has devoted quite a lot of time to the issue of commercial risk analysis, consulting for a number of companies that are contemplating investing in Africa. As generally known, the oil and gas industry--and the extractive industries in general--attracts a huge amount of inward investment to the continent. As such, Lord Boateng does not share the view, which is often repeated by analysts, that Africa's mineral wealth constitutes a curse?

"No, I decline to view Africa's resources as a curse," Boateng responded. "What makes mineral wealth potentially so, of course, is what we human beings do with it. In itself it is not a curse and it is something that has the potential to contribute massively to the wealth of all the people of the continent if used wisely and sustainably.

"For Inc, Botswana's zoo billion tons of coal indicates the potential of mining to contribute 80% of that country's total economy by zoi.6. Namibia's mining exports constitute 50% of its total export earnings, and that will be expanding at 12.5% each year between now and zor7. Zambia's copper production makes up to% of its GDP and 80% of its export earnings--all these facts illustrate my point. And that is mining alone, before you reckon with the hydrocarbons sector. "The question, is what do you do with this potential? That's why I believe that the framework in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is such an important one.

EITI is a global coalition of governments, companies, and civil society groups working together to improve openness and the accountable management of...

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