Increased demands for resources around the world have attracted significant new investment in Africa’s extractive industries, covering mining, oil and gas, timber and fishing. Some of the investment has arisen because of the attendant boom in commodity prices, while some has arisen from the necessity to secure resources for development.
Traditionally extractive industries in Africa have been extremely powerful in relation to fragile state structures. The diamonds traded in Sierra Leone and Liberia in exchange for arms fuelled civil wars (Global Witness, 2000:4). In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, persistent conflict led to the extractive industries being dominated by warlords, some of who gave mineral and logging concessions to the Zimbabwean and Namibian military establishments (see UN, 2002 esp. paras 22-64; BBC, 2001).
We have been seeing sustained mass murder in Darfur due to conflict partly centred on the fate of the region’s significant oil resources (Prunier 2007). The forced removal of the San from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana is being blamed on De Beers in partnership with the Botswana government(Motlogelwa, 2007).
As a result of growing concerns about the relationship between conflict and mineral extraction, key players in the mining and metals industry instituted the Kimberley process (to combat the blood diamond trade), and the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development project (MMSD) aimed at including environmental considerations more centrally in the industry’s operations. In 2002, the industry, with World Bank encouragement, set up the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, principally aimed at tracking revenues and opposing corruption. Emphasis on company reporting on sustainability standards has been raised by the UN Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative and demands emanating from brokers and bourses.