God gave us natural resources, to make our lives better, but He also gave us the ability to exercise wisdom in use of these resources.The bible also warns us against misuse of these resources. How we use our resources affects other people as well as ourselves. If we waste and misuse the earth’s resources, we will be harming generations to come. Jesus Christ teaches us in Mathews 7:12 the way to treat our earth and its resources as well as our ordinary relationships.
How we manage our natural resources is something we must take seriously in Africa. The paradox of natural resources has failed to lift the lives of people out of poverty.Our governments have taken themselves to be owners and not custodians in managing natural resources.
Africa has become weaker and powerless in taking steps to help the potential profits from natural resources to benefit millions of poor citizens who go without adequate health, education, nutrition, safe clean water etc.
In recent years we have seen so much excitement in Malawi in regard to mining. The country has taken more interest in the mineral sector to rebalance an economy reliant on agriculture amid climate related challenges and global anti-smoking campaigns that have reduced demand for tobacco which is Malawi main foreign currency earner. But the big question has been how organized are we?
Recently we have seen the nation interests in oil exploration in the northern region. But who will benefit? Looking at how we messed up in uranium mining, no one can dispute the uranium mine was imposed on the people of Karonga. Sad Karonga today is more expensive than it was years back before the mine. The people are more poorer though they were promised travel to the moon. Sure Karonga would not want to play the same game from this oil venture, this time for sure the people must get the share of the cake.
Learning from our mistakes African must use its natural resources productively, in a sustainable manner, to the benefit of our people, and future in which the use of our natural resources lead to development. Africa must shift from being a “resource cursed to “resource blessed continent”.
But how do we manage our natural resources to turn into a blessing for development. First, we must take natural resources as belonging to the people and not governments. Second, profits and revenues should benefit the people not a company or a President. Third, openness and transparency to ensure popular ownership and shared benefits and then good, development oriented leadership. Good national leadership must work at ensuring natural resources revenues fuels national development. Leadership that initiates an open and inclusive national dialogue on the benefits and pitfalls of natural resources.
With national passion let us come up with a profound strategy to manage our resources better and effectively and turn them into a blessing for development. But we must seek GOD’s wisdom for He is the creator of all things in heaven and on earth. Genesis 1:1-33.
- Undule Mwakasungula, the former director of Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and now a human rights columnist on Nyasa Times