Because of its lack of infrastructure, Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the biggest untapped mineral and natural resources in the world. Tapping into the rich mineral resources of the region will generate royalties and taxes as well as local employment opportunities needed for broad-based economic development in the region, but infrastructure is required before this can be done.
While mining operations in developed countries are supported by infrastructure created by governments, the infrastructure deficit in Sub-Saharan Africa cannot be handled alone by governments that already face many financial challenges.
Economic development in the region has been driven largely by mining in countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. However, where mining resources were primarily exploited for foreign agendas, countries faced huge challenges when foreign entities withdrew. The resulting lack of capacity resulted in infrastructure failures in governments, regions and societies.
“Mining is a catalyst for business where the value chain starts at mining, with value-add driving the rest of the economy through beneficiation to manufacturing and on to industry,” says Frans Pienaar, Chairman of Inyatsi Construction, a company involved in building infrastructure in the region.
“From our experience we have found that it is better to view mining infrastructure from a regional rather than a country point of view, because cooperation between regions improves profitability as well as the ability to compete internationally in the world markets. Obviously different countries have different needs and priorities, but it is important to align as far as possible to regional players to exploit cooperation and learning experiences.”
The involvement of mines in Africa will generate sustainable development when the infrastructure constructed for the operational purposes of the mines will also be available for employees and their families, as well as communities around the operation during and after the mining process.
Infrastructure plays an important role in the social and economic development of communities. Regions without sufficient access to effective infrastructure are characterized by high levels of poverty. The development of mining infrastructure that can contribute to economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa can be the catalyst for encourage economic growth, which in turn will fulfil a major role in alleviating poverty.