One of the salient aspects of the African geopolitics, as discussed in the earlier post, is the covetousness of African natural resources. Both the global powers and the emerging powers are interested in getting access to these African riches (environment resource), which in turn determines the nature of political relations between the countries and individual African States.
However, natural resource richness can also lead to disparities within states threatening to hamper any kind of cooperation. As such, there are two factors influencing this fragmentation:
- Natural distribution of resources, making some countries more affluent than others. For instance, Africa is well known for its gold reserves but then its production is concentrated in a few countries (South Africa, Tanzania and Ghana).
- Economic governance, which entails resource management practices— that is, how well does one country better exploit natural resources than others. Many a times, it can be that a certain nation despite being rich in terms of natural resources are ranked low in terms of transparency and accountability standards such as DRC, South Sudan, Nigeria etc.
Clearly, though Africa ranks high on natural endowments, still its economic governance does not mirror the same. Moreover, there seems to be absence of effective tools and mechanisms for integration and cooperation between individual African States. There also seems to be lack of continental solidarity, especially from the resource rich nations, which cannot divest themselves from integration which requires resource rich nations to bear the costs of development and overall integration.
Usually perceived as strategic national capital, natural resources therefore are intertwined with national identity and sovereignty. Any kind of access without state authorization then is serious threat to sovereignty, which then can lead to conflicts and border tensions. These environmental resources have in fact often been origin of several situations of instability and regional battles. Their management and governance then is of utmost importance and more important to realize the dysfunctions in the natural resources management, which are responsible for the continent’s precariousness. However, this can only be overcome through uniting in the cause of judicious exploitation of natural resources, with joint cooperation between individual African states.