When Kofi Annan was asked who is to blame for the looting in Africa, he said, “It takes two to tango”. He then added, “The African officials who are signing away their country’s resources at an almost giveaway rate in the expectation that they will get something are really betraying their people and the trust they have put in them.”
It was a general statement about the continent and the Democratic Republic of Congo in particular where around $1.36 billion was lost by the country between 2010 and 2012in mining rights sold to British Virgin Islands firms below their actual value. This money would have been enough to cover health and education budgets for two years. Annan said the problem with the contracts was that some countries are so keen to attract multinationals that they offer indefensible concessions. Multinationals are often given huge tax breaks leaving the countries poorer for concluding deals that give away resources gaining almost nothing.
Earlier this year, African leaders unusually accepted their role in the exploitation of the continent. This was at the 6th Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa where Ethiopia’s Hailemariam Desalegn, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Botswana’s Deputy President, Mokgweetsi Masis as well as many other former leaders accepted that there was a need to point the finger inwards. Alfred Dube, Director of the Addis Ababa Institute for Security Studies attended the forum said, “Poor natural resources management in Africa is a consequence of a complex set of dynamics, which should not be attributed only to foreign multinationals. Our poor state of governance; rampant corruption and greed in the negotiation of rights to mining, logging or fishing, which are always cloaked in secrecy, is largely responsible.”
The African Union has drafted a Mining Charter to enforce transparency in mining deals while the Tana Forum also emphasized the need for transparency and effective regulation. The Forum also insisted on beneficiation along the entire value chain and outlawing of illicit deals between leaders and multinational companies. Companies may be in it for the profits but leaders should be in it for the people.