African minerals the ‘fuel’ for renewable energy

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The success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) depends on investment in infrastructure such as electricity generation, transport and freight and logistics distribution, South Africa’s Deputy President Paul Mashatile told delegates at a business awards event on Friday.                                                                                                                               

Speaking at the All Africa Business Leaders Awards, he said investing in infrastructure was crucial to unlocking the potential for Africa to experience growth at faster rates and to ensure inclusive diversification                                                                                                              “This is because Africa’s trade integration has been hampered for decades by the ageing infrastructure and too many regulations which require reforms,” Mashatile said.                   

“In this regard, we welcome the launch by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) of the Africa Trade Gateway (ATG), a suite of five digital platforms providing critical services to support and promote African trade and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“We must surely invest in infrastructure because it is a critical driver of success across Africa. It makes a substantial contribution to human development and poverty alleviation.”  Mashatile added that the continent was brimming with opportunities – it has 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, 13% of the world’s oil, and at least half of the world’s diamonds.        

“We must dig into our continent’s riches and turn difficulties into possibilities. Africa has a lot of natural resources, which is good news for building value chains. Agriculture and the extraction industries are important parts of value chains at the national, regional and worldwide levels,” he said.                                                                                                        

Cobalt, nickel, lithium, manganese, uranium and rare earth metals, vital for clean energy generation, were also mostly found in Africa, he added. The Democratic Republic of the Congo produces 58% of the world’s cobalt, which is used to make electronics, and South Africa produces 69.6% of the world’s platinum. Mashatile said Africa was on the right path of development towards one African market.                                                                                 

“As it stands, the AfCFTA agreement has effectively created the largest free trade area in the world, measured by the number of countries participating. The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries, with a combined gross domestic product valued at US$3.4 trillion.

“It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty and 68 million Africans from moderate poverty. The creation of the vast AfCFTA regional market is a major opportunity to help African countries diversify their exports, accelerate growth, and attract foreign direct investment.” – SAnews.gov.za

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