African leaders have been challenged to speak up more against the exploitation of the continent’s natural resources and unfair trade practices.
African Wildlife Foundation president Kaddu Sebunya said leaders should speak out against an exploitative international system that puts trade and development above everything and demand a fair deal.
He said such practices were destroying Africa’s rich biodiversity and sinking local communities deeper into poverty.
“Africa has been under a regime of exploitation that has affected every fiber of our society. We lost our independence to colonialists, controlling much of our destiny,” said Mr Sebunya at a meeting for conservationists in Kigali, Rwanda.
He added that it was sad that so many years later, Africa continues to lose its heritage to international trade, saying this history had shaped Africa’s natural resources governance.
“In a globalised world, the relationship between nation states has been reduced to trade,” he said.
Mr Sebunya raised concern on the emergence of powerful trade blocs and a greater play of private sector interests in State affairs.
“But is trade and development in Africa the only important thing in defining relations between nation States?” he asked.
He said growing private sector appetite for timber, oil, natural gas and rain forests has recently intensified in the region, with major roads and railways being built to open up areas that were previously difficult to traverse.
“The massive infrastructure developments have put increasing pressure on animal and plant populations. Conservationists have also raised concerns about the destruction ofAfrica’s most critical water catchment areas,” he said.
But Mr Sebunya said lack of political will still undermined the various efforts to ensure sustainable development in the continent.