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Unleashing Africa’s critical mineral wealth: energy transition can pave the way to new prosperity

Africa has significant reserves of minerals critical for low-carbon technologies, such as cobalt and manganese, which offer opportunities for economic growth and development.

As part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will hold a preview event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and online on June 4.

The event titled “Maximizing Africa’s Potential: Harnessing Demand for Critical Minerals to Drive Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development” will explore ways to optimize the development benefits of Africa’s vast deposits of minerals critical to the global energy transition, such as cobalt, copper and lithium.

The Secretary-General of Trade and Development of the United Nations, Rebeca Grynspan, the Vice-President of the African Union Commission, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, and the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Antonio Pedro, They will bring together leaders, diplomats, experts and key stakeholders.

Forging a new path forward

The 60th anniversary of UN Trade and Development represents a pivotal moment, an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned over the past six decades and forge a new path forward, building a future that is resilient, equitable and sustainable.

Ms Grynspan has confirmed that the United Nations Trade and Development commitment to Africa remains unwavering as the organization moves into the future, and reiterated belief in the transformative power of Africa’s critical mineral wealth, which offers unlimited opportunities to catalyze sustainable development on the continent.

Through strategic partnerships and innovative solutions, UN Trade and Development stands ready to support efforts to harness the full potential of Africa’s abundant resources and shape a future in which the continent stands out on the global stage. as a beacon of opportunity and hope.

Critical step towards a new direction of development

The event in Addis Ababa is part of critical steps towards a new development path for Africa that puts the continent’s abundant mineral wealth at the service of its people.

Africa hosts considerable reserves of the minerals critical to the world’s energy transition: 55% cobalt, 47.65% manganese, 21.6% natural graphite, 5.9% copper, 5.6% nickel, 1 % lithium and 0.6% iron. mineral worldwide.

These minerals offer an opportunity to generate revenue for governments, finance development, overcome dependence on commodities, create jobs and raise living standards across Africa.

But the continent has yet to fully take advantage of the opportunities presented by its natural resources. Estimates show that African countries generate only about 40% of the revenue they could potentially raise from these resources.

Amid the current global crises, limited fiscal space, slow growth and high debt, African countries need to maximize the financial and development benefits of these resources, especially minerals critical to the energy transition.

Opportunities and challenges

The event will explore opportunities and challenges in Africa’s critical minerals sector. Key areas of discussion will include ways to improve revenue mobilization and tax administration, as well as promote value addition and regional value chain integration on the continent.

Participants will also examine how to increase investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation to support mineral-based industrialization on the continent while promoting climate action.

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