African leaders urged to expedite action on natural resources management


The Dean of the School of Research and Graduate Studies at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Professor Wisdom Akpalu, has emphasised the urgent need for strict regulations and effective management of Africa’s natural resources to maximise profits and promote economic growth in the region.

Speaking at an inaugural lecture titled ‘The complexities of managing natural resources in developing countries’ held at the GIMPA campus, Prof. Akpalu highlighted ecological disasters and the impoverishment of countries resulting from lack of proper regulation and management of natural resources.

He added that efficient resource exploitation, equitable distribution of resource rents, and productive investment of those rents are crucial factors in addressing the challenges associated with natural resources.

“The lack of strict and proper regulation and management of natural resources to ensure a sustainable economy imposes serious ecological disasters, which have led to collapse of a country’s mineral and agricultural sector – making the country poor,” he said.

The lecture aimed to explore the intricate factors surrounding management of natural resources in developing countries, both in theory and practice. It focused on topics such as the biophysical dynamics of resource management; conflicts and externalities arising from resource use; counterproductive incentives; and the significance of institutional quality. The presentation shed light on the challenges faced in effectively managing natural resources of developing countries by analysing various factors.

Prof. Akpalu serves as the Director of the Environment and Natural Resource Research Initiative (ENRRI – EfD Ghana), is president of the African Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AFAERE) and Ghana Country Lead for the WRI-RAMP Project. He emphasised Africa’s vast wealth of valuable natural resources that can contribute to economic growth.

However, he highlighted the paradoxical situation wherein many African countries, despite possessing abundant resources, suffer from poverty and deprivation.

Citing a World Bank report from 2018, Prof. Akpalu pointed out that Africa accounts for a significant proportion of global mineral resources – including cobalt (75 percent), diamond (45 percent), chromite (42 percent), manganese (42 percent), gold (21 percent), bauxite (18 percent), and uranium (16 percent). Nevertheless, he emphasised, the mere presence of resource wealth does not guarantee socio-economic development.

To ensure the sustainable management of natural resources, Prof. Akpalu stressed the need for effective policies that monitor activities in forest reserves and prevent any detrimental impacts on the environment. Such measures would help safeguard the resources while enabling responsible utilisation.

Prof. Wisdom Akpalu completed his GCE Ordinary levels at Anlo Secondary School at Anloga in the Volta Region, followed by his GCE Advanced levels at Presbyterian Boys Secondary (Presec) Legon.

He obtained his BA (Hons) degree in Economics and a Diploma in Education from the University of Cape Coast. With a scholarship from the African Economic Research Consortium, he pursued his Master’s degree in Economics at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, in collaboration with Oxford University.

Returning to Ghana, Prof. Akpalu began his career as a lecturer at the University of Cape Coast in 1997. In 2001, he received a scholarship to pursue his PhD in Economics at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, where he also obtained a Licentiate of Philosophy degree in Economics in 2006. He was recognised as Research Fellow of the Year by the Academy of Economics and Finance in 2015. Prof. Akpalu has delivered over 60 conferences in more than 30 countries, showcasing his expertise in the field.

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