Extractive industries are part of a broader process of human exploitation of resources from natural environment. Exploitation of natural resources also means that there is a subtraction or depletion, not only of the resources that are taken out, but also of the nature of the environment itself. Put differently, extraction means and includes loss of resources that are extracted, as well as the quality of the environment, from which these resources are extracted.
It is common knowledge that nature is both a resource (source of wealth) and a consumer amenity. In other words, nature not only holds wealth and provides for human beings, it is also a consumer amenity that deserves to be protected, for its intrinsic non-material value, from exhaustion and depletion for the benefit of both the present and future generations. Therefore, human beings who depend on the environment for their survival need to enjoy material goods embedded in the natural environment but at the same time remain mindful of the non material benefits (pleasantness, comfort and sociability) as well as potential losses inextricably associated with material exploitation.
What do these words of caution mean to the people and the African continent? How does one explain the fact that Africa, a continent bestowed with enormous natural resources, has not translated this supposed ‘ownership’ of natural resources into wealth for its people? Put differently, how is it that many people in the continent continue to live in poverty and deprivation while the benefits of nature, in the form of natural resources has made others in other continents richer? These are some of the questions that need to be asked for a start as we attempt to grapple with the consequences of historical legacies and seek to contribute to reversing the injustices of the past.