La última frontera de los recursos

OXFORD – En el próximo decenio, la extracción de petróleo, gas y minerales no transformados constituirá la oportunidad económica más importante, con mucha diferencia, de la historia de África. Este continente es la última frontera para el descubrimiento de recursos, por haber estado durante mucho tiempo relativamente desatendido por las compañías mineras y otras dedicadas a la extracción de recursos, en vista de las difíciles condiciones políticas existentes en él, pero el aumento de los precios de los productos básicos está venciendo su renuencia y las prospecciones están brindando una infinidad de nuevos descubrimientos.

En vista de que la extracción de recursos por kilómetro cuadrado en África representa el 20 por ciento de la media de la OCDE, el volumen total de extracción podría fácilmente multiplicarse por cinco. Los precios elevados y los descubrimientos futuros producirán corrientes de dinero tan enormes, que, si se administran adecuadamente, podrían transformar zonas terriblemente pobres de África en regiones prósperas. Desde luego, los ingresos resultantes de la extracción de recursos dejarán pequeñas a otras corrientes financieras con ese destino.

Pero en la historia de África el dinero que debería haber financiado inversiones productivas ha sido objeto con demasiada frecuencia de saqueos o despilfarros. Ahora el imperativo es el de impedir que la triste historia de explotación del continente se repita durante la próxima era de extracción de recursos en masa.

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