By Michael Mawa
This is in reference to the World Bank’s recently announced one billion dollar Project for Africa, which according to Tom Butler - the Mining Specialist at the Bank’s private finance arm, the International Finance Corp, is meant to “unlock the true worth of the Continent’s mineral endowment”.
Just like many previous initiatives that are characteristically packaged with enticing wrappers, the purpose of the project code named ‘The Billion Dollar Map’ is supposedly to ‘map Africa’s natural resources with the aim of delineating more clearly the continent’s uncovered mineral wealth’.
While this stated objective may make it seem like a much welcome and timely initiative for Africa, it is pertinent that the Continent does not rush to embrace it like many others it did in the past that later turned out to be either baits or fronts for some sinister interests, or even had outright disastrous consequences on the Continent.
Instead, it is of the essence that a project of this magnitude that not only covers the whole Continent but is aimed at potentially unearthing its entire resource endowment potential must be subject to a thorough scrutiny of whose interest it actually represents.
Strikingly coming at a time when the dust is just settling on the damning revelations about the Prism Surveillance Programme run by America’s National Security Agency, which, among others, showed the extent to which the US was prepared to go to even spy on allies, it is frightening to imagine what they for example obviously along with the other actors in the scramble could do with such strategic information about the resource map of the World’s most richly endowed Continent in pursuit of their interests, especially considering that they have never hidden their philosophy of not having permanent enemies but rather permanent interests.
It would, therefore, be an unforgivable crime of utmost naivety for Africa in this 21st Century age of enlightenment to imagine that those same sinister external interests that undermined the Continent over the last 50 years and have previously even used institutions like the World Bank and IMF to advance their interests have suddenly ‘seen the light’ and now have the Continent’s best interest at heart.
If anything, the ongoing geo political maneuvers around the Continent have already demonstrated that the next scramble for Africa is indeed well and truly underway, as evidenced among others by the large chunks of prime land being bought by foreigners and the many dubious deals being done that are literally mortgaging significant natural resource deposits of many African countries to foreign interests.
In the profound wisdom of one cliché of the youth involvement campaigns about not planning anything for them without their input, it is, therefore, crucial that Africa pulls the plug on this project until it has satisfactorily satisfied itself with the answers to the billion dollar question of whose interest it really represents.
Beyond raising the alarm in the ears of African governments who bear the immediate responsibility of stewarding the affairs of the Continent on behalf of its people, it is my desire to particularly prick and awaken the conscience of the young people of Africa to rise up and begin taking responsibility for the Continent, lest we are given a rude shock when we finally turn up to claim our inheritance of a richly endowed continent and only find left overs since the looters will have made good use of the painstaking information provided by the ‘Billion Dollar Map’ Project.
Alternatively, we could even find large chunks of our resources still intact but then under foreign ownership. Not under our watch!
God bless Africa,
The writer is the coordinator of the Strategic Leadership Forum/Passionate Africa Watcher Kampala, Uganda