Unlocking Africa's mineral wealth at UN Trade and Development anniversary

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Unlocking Africa's mineral wealth at UN Trade and Development anniversary
Energy transition minerals can pave Africa’s path to new prosperity.

Addis Ababa, 24 May 2024

As part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will hold a pre-event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and online on 4 June.

The event themed “Maximizing Africa's potential: Leveraging demand for critical minerals to boost inclusive growth and sustainable development” will explore ways to optimize the development benefits of Africa’s vast deposits of minerals critical to the global energy transition, such as cobalt, copper and lithium.

UN Trade and Development Secretary-General, Rebeca Grynspan, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, and Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Antonio Pedro, will be joined by leaders, diplomats, experts and key stakeholders.

Forging a new path forward

UN Trade and Development’s 60th anniversary represents a seminal moment, an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned over the past six decades and forge a new path forward, building a future that is resilient, equitable and sustainable.

Ms. Grynspan has confirmed UN Trade and Development’s commitment to Africa remains unwavering as the organization steps into the future, and reiterated the belief in the transformative power of Africa's critical mineral wealth, which offers boundless opportunities to catalyse sustainable development on the continent.  

Through strategic partnerships and innovative solutions, UN Trade and Development stands ready to support efforts to harness the full potential of Africa's abundant resources and shape a future where the continent stands tall on the global stage as a beacon of opportunity and hope.

Critical step towards new development course

The event in Addis Ababa is part of the critical steps towards a new development course for Africa that places the continent’s abundant mineral wealth at the service of its people.

Africa is home to sizeable reserves of the world’s critical energy transition minerals: 55% of cobalt, 47.65% of manganese, 21.6% of natural graphite, 5.9% of copper, 5.6% of nickel, 1% of lithium, and 0.6% of iron ore globally.

These minerals offer an opportunity to generate revenues for governments, finance development, overcome commodity dependence, create jobs and raise living standards across Africa.

But the continent has yet to fully seize the opportunities presented by its natural resource endowments. Estimates show that African countries generate only about 40% of the revenue they could potentially collect from these resources.

Amid current global crises, limited fiscal space, slow growth and high debt, African countries need to maximize the financial and development benefits of these resources, especially critical energy transition minerals.

Opportunities and challenges

The event will explore opportunities and challenges in Africa’s critical minerals sector. Key areas of discussion will include ways to enhance revenue mobilization and fiscal administration as well as promote value addition and regional value chain integration on the continent.

Participants will also examine how to increase investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation to support minerals-based industrialization on the continent while promoting climate action.


To participate in the event online, please register via Zoom.

To request for interviews with the speakers, please e-mail:


**About UN Trade and Development: **

UN Trade and Development (formerly known as UNCTAD) is dedicated to promoting inclusive and sustainable development through trade and investment. With a diverse membership, it empowers countries to harness trade for prosperity.



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