Unlocking Central Africa’s Mining Potential: A Path to Sustainability and Regional Prosperity

Among the major challenges Central Africa is striving to overcome is the exploitation and processing of its mineral resources. Despite its immense potential, these riches remain largely underexploited. However, the resources from its subsoil are growing stronger each year. It is crucial to unlock this potential and turn it into a lever for sustainable development, focused on sub-regional collaboration.

Artisanal methods produce a wide variety of minerals to meet the vital needs of modern communication technologies, clean and low-carbon energy technologies, and jewelry. In Cameroon, artisanal and semi-mechanized mining constitutes the bulk of extraction activities in the mining sector.

Cooperation among Central African countries in this area would allow for the pooling of resources, skills, and infrastructure necessary for mining exploitation. This solution was demonstrated by the Central Africa Business Energy Forum (CABEF) during the intervention of Mrs. Nathalie Lum, Chairwoman of CABEF, at the 2024 International Mining Conference and Exhibition of Cameroon, held in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon.

According to CABEF’s vision, the industrialization of Cameroon and the sub-region depends on energy. The adoption of natural gas as the main energy source is part of the energy mix promoted by CABEF; thus, the CAPS (Central Africa Pipeline System) project is the ideal solution to secure energy supply in mining operations. Regional collaboration in this field could also promote the development of local industrial sectors, thereby creating jobs and sustainable economic opportunities for the region’s populations.

Strengthened regional collaboration would better address common challenges faced by Central African countries, such as the quest for sovereignty, local workforce training, infrastructure construction, and financing of major projects. By establishing common standards and strengthening control mechanisms, the sub-region’s countries could ensure a more transparent and ethical exploitation of their resources.

The industrialization of Central Africa is a crucial issue. The countries of the sub-region are endowed with riches such as diamonds in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, copper, cobalt, and iron in Gabon, Cameroon has manganese deposits, while the DRC and the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) have iron ore reserves. These countries must collaborate to overcome their common challenges and fully exploit the opportunities offered by the transformation of these raw materials on their territory.

The Mbalam-Nabeba mining project is a perfect illustration of this, as future work will strengthen the socio-economic ties between Cameroon and Congo, and could include Gabon in a process of opening up, notably thanks to the Nabeba-Mbalam (71 km) and Mbalam-Kribi (510 km) railways.

In short, unlocking Central Africa’s mining potential requires closer regional collaboration based on principles of transparency, ethics, and sustainability. By joining forces, the sub-region’s countries could transform their mineral wealth into a driver of economic and social development for future generations.

Nathalie LUM
Chairwoman of the CABEF