World Bank to map Africa’s natural resources

The World Bank has announced a $1-billion plan to map Africa’s natural resources, set to launch in July.

Tom Butler, Global Head of Mining of The World Bank, announced the plan at the 20th Annual Investing in Africa Mining Indaba in Cape Town this week.

The project, dubbed the Billion Dollar Map, uses satellites and airborne surveys to fill in the geological gaps across the continent that hamper mining investments. Butler says the map will be public and will be used by policy makers, investors and the public to help boost development.

Paolo de Sa, a mining unit senior manager at the World Bank told Reuters that commodity prices are low at the moment which means mining companies are keen for information to help guide their priorities.

De Sa said African governments would also benefit from the mapping by using the information to negotiate better deals with mining companies.

Critics worry that information from the maps may fuel the many conflicts in resource rich areas of Africa.

The World Bank told Reuters that it has met with mining companies and governments from sub-Sahara Africa. Nearly $200 million has already been committed to the fund. Estimates say the mapping could produce revenues of up to $1 trillion in new mineral resources across the continent.

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