Each of the seven continents of the world has diverse natural resources. Africa has the richest concentration of natural resources such as oil, copper, diamonds, bauxite, lithium, gold, hardwood forests, and tropical fruits. It is estimated that 30% of the earth’s mineral resources are found in the African continent. Additionally, Africa has the world’s biggest precious metal reserves on earth. Despite the wealth of natural resources, Africa still lags behind in development due to corruption and resource mismanagement.
It is estimated that 12% of the oil produced in the world comes from Africa. The oil was formed over a period of more than a million years when fossils decomposed. The countries that lead in oil production in Africa are Nigeria, Libya, Angola, Algeria, and Egypt. These nations accounted for more than 8.7 million barrels of all the oil produced daily in 2014. Nigeria and Libya are ranked among the top ten countries with the largest oil reserves in the world at 48 billion barrels for Libya and 37 billion barrels for Nigeria. Most of the oil produced in Africa is exported to Europe and the United States where it is refined and consumed.
Africa has the richest reserves of precious metals such as gold, cobalt, and platinum. These metal reserves are worth billions of dollars. The continent is home to the leading producer of the highly priced metal - gold. Gold is highly sought after in the jewelry industry as well as in the financial markets where it is used as an alternative investment option. South Africa is Africa's top gold producing nation. Other African countries that lead in the production of gold include Benin, Morocco, and the Gambia. Cobalt is another precious metal produced mainly in the continent. The commodity is essential in the production of electric cars. Approximately two-thirds of the cobalt in the world are produced in the DRC. Platinum is one of the rarest metals, and it has its largest reserves in South Africa. Platinum is used in making jewelry, electronics, and medical equipment.
Timber is an essential resource in the construction industry and furniture making. Most African countries are endowed with vast natural forests that provide timber. Ten nations belong to the International Tropical Timber Organization. They include Cameroon, Gabon, Togo, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, DRC, and Ghana. These countries are some of the leading timber producers in the world. Most of the timber produced in Africa is exported to China, England, France, and the United States.
Management of Africa’s Natural Resources
Unlike the other six continents, Africa has a wealth of precious natural resources. Most of these commodities are highly sought after throughout the world. Despite all the commodities naturally occurring in the continent, most nations of Africa derive little benefits from the resources. High levels of corruption, lack of policies on wealth management, poor resource allocation, exploitation, and political instability are some of the factors that affect the continent. These problems need to be addressed to enable African nations to benefit from the abundant resources in their hands.