Tuesday February 6, 2024
African leaders, mining experts and global investors are meeting in South Africa for the annual mining indaba, or conference.“Africa has the potential to be the fulcrum of the global energy transition, with mining at its core,” said South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa during the opening ceremony of the four-day event in Cape Town.
Africa is home to about 30% of the world’s mineral reserves, according to the United Nations, however most of this wealth remains untapped.
Discussions will centre around the race for Africa’s critical minerals such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and graphite, which are essential for generating renewable energy - including solar panels and wind turbines.
However, South Africa is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in Africa. Most of these emissions come from coal-fired power plants which generate 80% of the electricity in the country.
The energy crisis in South Africa has made it difficult to take the coal-fired power plants off the grid.
“South Africa is pursuing a just energy transition – one that is at a pace and scale that our country can afford, and in a manner that ensures energy security and creates new opportunities for those affected,” said President Ramaphosa.
Several African countries with crucial mineral resources export them as raw ores, with limited value-addition done at source. This has caused them to miss out on the maximum value of these resources. It has also led to exploitative labour practices in mining industries across Africa.
A lack of infrastructure has also made it difficult for countries to get their minerals to markets in an efficient and cost-effective way.
The Natural Resource Governance Institute reports that the mining industry has contributed to only 8% of total government revenues in the 15 most mining-dependent African economies.
African governments will therefore be expected to demand more bargaining power during this conference and negotiate greater value for their resources.