Africa is a poor continent, rich in resources. Over centuries African resources have sup- ported industrial development elsewhere in the world, while industrial development on the continent itself has languished. African people have not benefited in any significant way from the resources which have been extracted from their land.
Today, the people of Southern Africa have little to show for the exploitation of their mineral resources. Poverty in the region is as bad as it ever was, if not worse, and is increasing tensions and conflicts within communities. This is symptomatic of a general crisis in resource access, exploitation, distribution and utilisation.
However, the situation is changing. People in Southern Africa want to see the extraction of their minerals translating into improved conditions of life. There is a new vitality, with an increasing number of civil society organisations and organised communities focussing on economic justice, and demanding equal distribution of revenues, better work conditions, protection of the environ- ment, and respect for human rights by mining companies.