Extractivism and transition in Africa : opportunities and challenges

Huber, Maria (2014-04)

Thesis (MPhil) Stellenbosch University, 2014

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Existence of natural resources in majority of African countries has been identified to support further development due to continuously increase in commodity revenues. However, the resource curse presents critical aspects of resource intensive economies such as short-term benefits of commodity revenues, limited economic diversification and unstable government. Due to natural resource abundance in Africa, extractive industries are essential in the domestic economic system, although, the disadvantages based on the resource curse theory, question the support of commodity revenues in Africa’s development. South America views the issues of extractive industries from a different perspective by analysing the related developmental approaches namely conventional extractivism, neo-extractivism and post-extractivism. While South American countries are in different transition phases of extractivism, Africa is dominated solely by conventional extractivism. This results in varying degrees of social and environmental impacts on the African continent. However, Africa’s transition towards neo- or post-extractivism will limit the problems of the resource curse and offers a more sustainable resource management of the extractive industries. The Environmental Kuznets’ Curve (EKC) supports the principle of developed and recently industrialised countries by relying on the economic development, which will reduce environmental degradation automatically by achieving a specific turning point. The three phases of EKC can be related to different stages of economic development, as well as to the three extractivism approaches. Therefore, transitions from conventional extractivism to neo-extractivism and finally to post-extractivism have to occur to stabilise economic development and reduce environmental degradation. Within this process of transition towards more sustainable extractivism approaches, the principle of “Sustainable Structural Transformation” (SST) is applicable. SST was described in the UNCTAD report (2012) as a tool to reduce environmental impacts while continuing to provide for the demand of an increasing global population. Neo- and post-extractivism approach supports the concept of SST, which primarily emphasises more efficient technologies, new economic activities, labour productivity and regulations. The foundation of SST is based on resource decoupling in order to separate economic developmental process from natural resource extraction while minimizing environmental impacts. For the application of SST and thus for the transition of extractivism, reinvestment is essential to create a diversified economy. While reinvestment can take place in various forms, the World Bank (2011) identified three types of wealth namely natural, produced and intangible capital contributing to the total wealth of a country. However, developing countries prioritise natural wealth in comparison to other forms of wealth; therefore, reinvestment has to take place in other types of wealth namely intangible and produced wealth in order to achieve sustainable development in Africa. UNCTAD (2012) considers SST as a framework without an attempt of creating a “one-size-fits-all” solution. This understanding is crucial for the transition from one phase of extractivism to another. Depending on the context of a country, tools have to be adapted to support the needed transition. These existing differences are presented in the case studies of Nigeria and Botswana, which are two developing countries in Africa but they present different stages of extractivism and resource management.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Daar is vasgestel dat die beskikbaarheid van natuurlike hulpbronne in ’n meerderheid van Afrikalande verdere ontwikkeling ondersteun deur ’n ononderbroke toename in grondstofinkomstes. Die hulpbronvloek wys egter kritisie aspekte van hulpbron-intensiewe ekonomieë uit. Van hierdie aspekte sluit in korttermynvoordele van grondstofinkomstes, beperkte ekonomiese diversifisering en onstabiele regerings. Weens die oorvloed van natuurlike hulpbronne in Afrika is ontginningsnywerhede onontbeerlik in die binnelandse ekonomiese stelsel, alhoewel die nadele wat deur die hulpbronvloekteorie uitgewys word die ondersteuning van grondstofinkomstes in Afrika se ontwikkeling bevraagteken. Suid-Amerika beskou die kwessie van ontginningsnywerhede vanuit ’n ander perspektief deur die verwante ontwikkelingsbenaderings, naamlik konvensionele ontginning, neo-ontginning en postontginning, te ontleed. Alhoewel Suid-Amerikaanse lande in ander oorgangsperiodes van ontginning verkeer, word Afrika slegs deur konvensionele ontginning oorheers. Dit lei tot wisselende grade van sosiale en omgewingsimpakte op die Afrika-kontinent. Afrika se oorgang na neo- en postontginning sal egter die uitdagings van hulpbronvloek beperk en bied ’n meer onderhoubare hulpbronbestuur van die ontginningsnywerhede. Die Omgewing-Kuznetskurwe (OKK) ondersteun die beginsel van ontwikkelde en onlangs geïndustrialiseerde lande. Hierdie ondersteuning geskied deur staat te maak op die ekonomiese ontwikkeling wat outomaties omgewingsagteruitgang sal verminder deur ’n spesifieke keerpunt te bereik. Die drie fases van die OKK kan met verskillende fases van ekonomiese ontwikkeling asook die drie ontginningsbenaderings verbind word. Om hierdie rede moet oorgange van konvensionele ontginning na neo-ontginning en uiteindelik postonginning plaasvind om die ekonomiese ontwikkeling te stabiliseer en die omgewingsagteruitgang te beperk. Die beginsel van “Onderhoubare Strukturele Transformasie” (OST) is veral toepaslik in die oorgangsproses na meer onderhoubare ontginningsbenaderings. Die OST is in die verslag van die Verenigde Nasies se Kongres van Handel en Ontwikkeling (VNKHEO) (2012) beskryf as ’n middel om omgewingsimpakte te beperk terwyl dit in die behoefte van ’n toenemend groeiende wêreldbevolking voorsien. Neo- en postontginningsbenaderings ondersteun die OST-konsep wat veral meer doeltreffende tegnologieë, nuwe ekonomiese aktiwiteite, arbeidsproduktiwiteit en regulasies benadruk. Vir die toepassing van OST en dus die verandering in ontginning is herbelegging noodsaaklik om ’n gediversifiseerde ekonomie te bewerkstellig. Alhoewel herbelegging op verskillende maniere kan plaasvind, het die Wêreldbank (2011) drie tipes rykdom geïdentifiseer, naamlik natuurlike, vervaardigde en ontasbare kapitaal wat tot die algehele rykdom van ’n land bydra. Ontwikkelende lande gee voorkeur aan natuurlike rykdom teenoor ander vorme van rykdom. Om hierdie rede moet herbelegging binne die ander vorme van rykdom plaasvind om onderhoubare ontwikkeling in Afrika teweeg te bring. Hierdie ander vorme van rykdom sluit ontasbare en vervaardigde rykdom in. VNKHEO (2012) beskou OST as ’n raamwerk wat nie poog om ’n “one-size-fits-all”-oplossing voort te bring nie. ’n Oorkoepelende benadering is kardinaal om die verandering in ontginning teweeg te bring. Afhangende van die konteks van ’n land moet middels aangepas word vir die nodige ondersteuning van die verandering. Hierdie bestaande verskille word in die gevallestudies van Nigerië en Botswana uitgewys. Dié twee lande dui op twee verskillende ontginningstadia en hulpbronbestuur.

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