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At the three-day 8th African Development Forum (ADF VIII) meeting held under the theme, “Governing and Harnessing Natural Resources for Africa’s Development”;
African experts and stakeholders met at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), to deliberate on ways of addressing challenges to the governing and harnessing of natural resources towards the development of the continent.
The ADF VIII focused on mineral, land, forest and fishery resources, and the potential role these resources play in the transformation of the continent.
During the opening session one of the keynote speakers was Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (Phd), the newly elected, and the first woman, to be Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC).
In her remarks, she said that the outcome of the ADF VIII would help to chart a path to the productive and sustainable use of Africa’s natural resources. “Ideas from the ADF should therefore help our decision makers to assess the state of affairs today. It should help chart a path to the future, in which Africa uses its natural resources productively and sustainably, to its benefit and that of its people.” She further said that this forum should address the challenges that Africa faces today, with respect to the utilization and management of its natural resources.
The Chairperson also highlighted the issue of human resource development, which she said is the common thread that links all other resources.
“We need to develop the capacities and skills of our people- especially youth and women – to enable them to be fully involved and participate effectively in all aspects of the management and the value chain of our natural resource utilization,” she said.
She also raised critical questions for the experts at the forum to deliberate on in the coming days. “You must address such issues as the ownership of these resources. Yes, the resources are physically located on our continent, in our countries – but do we really own them? What should be the right balance between foreign and national ownership of resources, and how do we get there? How much of our resources should we give away, and how much should we keep for our own needs for the next fifty or hundred years from now?”
She further questions Africa’s growth, saying that if the continent is growing, why is it not creating enough jobs for its youth, and why are the jobs of the people of Africa low level and poorly paid?
Declaring the official opening of the ADF VIII, Mekonnen Manazewal, Ethiopian Minister of Industry, said infrastructure and the level of Africa’s human resource development have continued to hamper meaningful development that would make a difference in poverty and underdevelopment.