WHAT ARE RESOURCES?
Resources are things that a country has the ability to either use, apply or sell to function or prosper. These come in two categories: Natural resources and Human resources. Human resources are skilled labour and other people who can work by money for the benefit of a country or business. Natural resources are materials or things occurring naturally in the country that can be used for economic gain.
DO WE HAVE A LIMITED NUMBER OF RESOURCES?
Some resources do not run out, or run out so slowly that we do not need to worry about it. Other resources are not likely to last for long. It is looking likely that fossil fuels, such and oil and coal, will run out at some point reasonably soon. Other resources may not for quite some time, like uranium. There is not much that can be done about this as it is simply based on how much of the stuff is in the ground. But, there are other resources which could last forever if looked after properly. This includes the forests. These supply wood for buildings and sap and other materials for cosmetics and other products. These trees are often cut down at a faster rate than they are planted at. To make sure these last for ever, it is important to replant so the resource does not end.
An educated population is another helpful resource. If a population is well educated they can work to earn more money and the country is more efficient. This means more trade will happen in the country and so the country’s wealth will increase.
HOW DO YOU USE THE RESOURCES OF A CONTINENT WELL?
Africa has a lot of many useful and valuable resources. For example, Africa has the largest cobalt, diamond, platinum, and uranium reserves in the world. These are highly sought after goods. But, for the resources to be used in a way that benefits the countries they are found it, they must be managed well and without corruption. This is important so that the wealth is brought back to all the people in the country. The influx of money and trade that can happen when the natural resources of a country are managed properly can help build infrastructure in cities and countryside that can improve the welfare of the whole nation.
One important way to ensure the resources are managed properly is for everyone to ensure that the resources are not sold to illegal black-markets and that money is not misspent or stolen. This corruption prevents a stable economy from developing and stops other countries wanting to invest in the developments.
One good example of handling resources well is in Botswana. Botswana is a diamond rich country and has been developing a stable and transparent economy for decades. It has managed to keep some of the profits from processing the diamonds too, rather than the raw materials being sold to other countries for processing. This increases the value of the resource while it is still in the country. This then earns more money for the country. By processing the diamonds in the country, Botswana has managed to introduce a developed infrastructure into its cities. This has encouraged more businesses to trade in the country and in doing so has improved the income for many business, such as for taxi drivers and bus stations.
Hopefully the same success will happen in other countries as with Botswana. A very large diamond was recently found in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone also has Diamond rich areas, and if managed properly may also be able to develop in the same way as Botswana. Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma has thanked the local chief and his people for not smuggling the diamond to another county and instead putting it into the hands of the government. He has stated that the owners should get what is owed to them and that the finding of such a diamond should benefit the country as a whole. Hopefully, this will be the case and by managing the case with clarity and careful planning it is a possibility that this could see Sierra Leone develop the same trade infrastructure as Botswana.