This page gives some information about the natural resources and minerals found in Africa, but feel free to do some further research of your own. You may want to use Wikipedia or just a straightforward Google search, or perhaps a visit to your local library would be more informative.
You know your pupils, so you can set the limitations of the tasks accordingly. Some of these topics may be difficult for younger children, but even a very basic response can stimulate new thinking. The aim of this research topic is to challenge preconceived ideas about what Africa gives to the world, but it touches on complicated issues such as world markets, so you will have to assess the tasks and decide how best to deliver them.
Even a simple assessment of what products make up our immediate environment can help pupils think about global processes that aren’t immediately obvious. A world map may be helpful when looking at this topic.
Pupils could work together in groups or on their own projects. Again, you should be the judge of this, based on how much time you have for the subject.
SOUTH AFRICA’S NATURAL RESOURCES
This video features researchers from the Mama Africa team talking about the natural resources of Africa.
Below are some examples of response from other students. Use your research project to investigate more.
‘THE SCOURGE OF NATURAL RESOURCES’
Africa has a large quantity of natural resources including oil, diamonds, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, silver, petroleum and cocoa beans, but also woods and tropical fruits. Much of its natural resources are undiscovered or barely harnessed. Having a low human density, for a long period of time Africa has been colonised by more dynamic groups, exploiting African resources. Some economists have talked about the ‘scourge of raw materials’, large quantities of rare raw materials putting Africa under heavy pressures and tensions, leading to wars and slow development.
Despite this abundance of natural resources, claims suggest that many western nations such as the United States, Canada, France and the United Kingdom as well as emerging economic powerhouses such as China often exploit Africa’s natural resources today, with most of the value and money from the resources to go to the West, causing further poverty in Africa.
African Oil takes growing importance, mainly after the 2003 oil crisis and recent oil reserve discoveries. Sudan and Nigeria are two of the main oil producers. China owns 40% of Sudan’s oil production. Sudan’s oil exports in 2010 are estimated by the US Department of State at 9 billion US dollars.
Five countries dominate Africa’s upstream oil production and are, in order of decreasing output, Nigeria, Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Angola. Other oil producing countries are Gabon, Congo, Cameroon, Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire.
Exploration is taking place in a number of other countries that aim to increase their output or become first-time producers. Included in this list are Chad, Sudan, Namibia, South Africa and Madagascar.
AFRICA AND THE MINERAL INDUSTRY
The mineral industry of Africa is one of the largest mineral industries in the world. Africa is the second biggest continent, with 30 million square kilometers of land, which implies large quantities of resources. For many African countries, mineral exploration and production constitute significant parts of their economies and remain keys to economic growth.
Africa is richly endowed with mineral reserves and ranks first or second in quantity of world reserves of bauxite, cobalt, industrial diamond, phosphate rock, platinum-group metals, vermiculite and zirconium. Gold is Africa’s main mining resource.