Natural resources of Africa
Africa has a large quantity of natural resources including diamonds, salt, 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 colonized by more dynamic groups, exploiting African resources. Some economists[who?] 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 these abundance of natural resources, claims suggest that many Western nations like the United States, Canada, France and the United Kingdom as well as emerging economic powerhouses like China often exploit Africa's natural resources today, causing most of the value and money from the natural resources to go to the West and East Asia rather than Africa, further causing the poverty in Africa.
African oil takes growing importance, mainly after the 2003 oil crisis and recent oil reserves discoveries. Sudan and Nigeria are two of the main oil producers. China owns 40% of Sudan's oil production. Oil is provided by both continental and offshore productions. Sudan's oil exports in 2010 are estimated by the United States Department of State at $9 billion with United States dollars.
Five countries dominate Africa's upstream oil production. Together they account for 85% of the continent's 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 the Congo and Côte 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 while Mozambique and Tanzania are potential oil producers.
Ore resources in Africa are abundant, and extremely more so nowadays as other continents are beginning to face depletion of resources. The copper belt in Katanga, the diamond mines in Sierra Leone, Angola, and Botswana are well known for their abundance and rich produce, albeit, also notorious for their level of corruption and links to rebel movements. The RUF (Revolutionary United Front) and the blood diamonds used to supply these rebel factions with arms is one such example.
Alternative or Controversial Views on African Natural Resources
The Ghanaian public commentator, Bright Simons, though not an economic geography expert, has countered with evidence from mineralogical records that Africa lags behind other continents in terms of its mineral endowments on a "per capita and per square mile basis".