Africa’s minerals sector should “seize the opportunities presented by the global transition towards green energy”, experts noted during a virtual webinar on the future of mining in Africa, post-Covid-19.
One opportunitylies ingrowing global demand for lithium, which is used in batteries for electric vehicles, smartphones and offgrid energy storage.
The webinar was organised by the African Natural Resources Centre (ANRC) and the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), both entities of the African Development Bank, in partnership with the Nordic Africa Institute.
It was part of a series examining the impact of the pandemic on Africa’s extractive sectors, particularly minerals, oil and gas.
“Africa is strategically positioned to derive maximum benefits from the growing global lithium-ion batteries industry,” said ANRC director Dr Cosmas Ochieng, who moderated the December event.
He cited that, in 2018, Zimbabwe and Namibia were among thetop ten global producers of lithium, with Zimbabwe alone holding 11-million tonnes of lithium ore in its Bikita mines, in the Masvingo region.
Participants urged African leaders to step up and include battery production as a continent-wide development priority.
Among the themes discussed by the participants was the Africa Mining Vision, a policy framework created by the African Union in 2009 to ensure that African countries use their mineral resources strategically for broad-based, inclusive development.
“The realisation 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 global body United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa director Dr Antonio Pedro.
In a presentation on drivers of the sector in the post-pandemic period, media company Bloomberg new energy finance metals analyst Dr Kwasi Ampofo said that adoption of renewable energy is rising in the mining sector. Investments in renewable energy have increased significantly in the last ten years.
Ampofo urged African mining companies to take a lead in decarbonisation of their operations and the transition to clean energy to attract ‘green’ funds.