Africa’s minerals sector should seize the opportunities presented by the global transition towards green energy, experts discussed during a virtual workshop on the future of mining in Africa post-COVID-19.
The webinar, organized by the African Natural Resources Centre and the African Legal Support Facility, both entities of the African Development Bank, in partnership with Nordic Africa Institute, was part of a series that is examining the impact of the pandemic on Africa’s extractive sector, particularly minerals, oil and gas.
The ongoing global transition towards green energy and rapid decarbonisation holds significant potential for Africa’s extractive sector, the participants heard.
One opportunity lies in growing demand globally for lithium, which is used in batteries for electric vehicles, smartphones and off-grid energy storage.
“Africa is strategically positioned to derive maximum benefits from the growing global lithium-ion batteries industry,” said Dr Cosmas Ochieng, Director of the African Natural Resources Centre, who moderated the event on 9 December.
In 2018, Zimbabwe and Namibia were among the top 10 global producers of lithium, with Zimbabwe alone holding 11 million tonnes of lithium ore in its Bikita mines in the country’s Masvingo region. African leaders must step up and include battery production as a continent-wide development priority, participants urged.
Among other themes discussed by the participants was the Africa Mining Vision, a policy framework created by the African Union in 2009 to ensure Africa utilizes its mineral resources strategically for broad-based, inclusive development.
“The realization of the Vision hinges on strong political will and a commitment to developing strong capable mineral management systems and institutions. It requires an astute understanding of Africa’s relative advantages in the global mineral value chain,” said Dr Antonio Pedro, Director of the Economic Commission for Africa’s sub-regional office for Central Africa.
In a presentation on drivers of the sector in the post-pandemic period, Dr Kwasi Ampofo, metals analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said “adoption of renewable energy is rising in the mining sector. Investments in renewable energy have increased significantly in the last ten years,” he said.
Ampofo urged African mining companies to take a lead in the decarbonization of their operations and the transition to clean energy to attract ‘green’ funds.