Energy & Mining

Delivering on the promise: Leveraging natural resources to accelerate human development in Africa


From Our Correspondent

There are pressing human development needs across Africa and domestic resources have a

critical role to play in financing those needs. New natural resource discoveries provide a

substantial opportunity to fast track human development progress. Yet many countries in

Africa have not yet managed to reap the full development benefits of their natural resource

wealth. The limited results in terms of human development outcomes across the continent

suggests that the contribution of the oil, minerals and gas sectors to Africa’s socio-economic

development will remain uncertain unless deliberate steps are taken for these major assets

to become a significant part of country development agendas.

Many African governments have expressed commitment to turn new revenues from natural

resources into the type of outcomes that matter for their citizens, including better health,

better education, and increased access to quality social services. They also want to make

sure the discovery of extractives translates into more and better jobs and business


Yet, policy makers are well aware that delivering on those commitments will

demand tough and often complex policy choices: balancing the need for social investments

with that of other sectors across the economy; being transparent and carefully managing

citizen expectations; and adequately distributing benefits between extractives and nonextractives

communities and between current and future generations.

Despite impressive economic growth in recent years, many African countries have seen uneven

progress in improving health, education, and other social outcomes for their citizens. As domestic

resources become more critical to financing these needs, new natural resource discoveries – oil,

minerals, and gas – offer a new source of revenue for advancing human development and

supporting countries on the path to self-sufficiency.

Most African governments have expressed a commitment to directing new revenues from natural

resources toward improving social outcomes as well as creating more and better jobs and business opportunities. But several countries in the region are finding it challenging to scale up investments

to the right level, and the contribution from extractives to socioeconomic development will remain

unfulfilled unless their commitments become a significant part of their national development


Policymakers in these countries are aware that they face tough and often complex policy choices

along the way: balancing social investments with needs in other sectors of the economy, being

transparent and carefully managing citizen expectations, and ensuring benefits for both extractives

and non-extractives communities and for current as well as future generations.

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