The Billion Dollar Map
The World Bank has presented a new project called “Billion Dollar Map” aimed at helping African governments find out about natural resources in their countries. The project tries to identify those natural resources which are not yet exploited in African countries, estimate the reserves of these resources as well as their value on the market. The World Bank believes that the information will help African governments in negotiations and that civil society will be able to assess the value of any deal.
It is estimated that 30 sub-Saharan African countries are significantly rich in natural resources and that they hold 30% of the world’s reserves of uranium, platinum, diamonds and gold. Moreover, the continent has great reserves of oil, coal and gas. In spite of this wealth, 50% of its population is living below the poverty line.
According to a 2013 report by Global Financial Integrity, African countries have lost between $600 Billion and $1.4 trillion over the past 30 years in net resources transfer. However, it is not only the lack of information that causes the loss of millions of dollars every year; there is also a set of problems caused by a lack of transparency in negotiations, an unfair tax system, the abuse of transnational companies operating in developing countries and corruption or inadequate infrastructure.
The World Bank intends to promote the development of African countries through better deals between African governments and the transnational companies that are exploiting their natural resources. However, it is not better deals and greater revenue that will bring about development, but a new form of productivity. The natural resources of African countries must be not only unearthed, but also processed there. This will be the foundation of a solid industry and increase jobs and national services. Increasing the circulation of money through African countries is not the way to achieve an ambitious development project, but an example of avarice.