People in Lockdown, Extractive Industries in Business
First Pan-African Dialogue, held on 4 February 2021
By WoMin Admin
An introduction to ‘People in Lockdown, opens in a new windowExtractive Industries in Business’
The large-scale exploitation of nature alongside that of labour by transnational corporations continues to anchor economic activity across Africa. This has resulted in multi-layered and intersecting crises, including catastrophic ecosystem damage and climate change, the ultimate threat to the survival of humanity.
Over the last few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, opens in a new windowextractive industries have continued their operations in some contexts, even though whole populations have been in lockdown and under strict curfew. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, most African governments have continued to adopt a neoliberal posture – restricting the life-sustaining activities of communities while facilitating the destructive activities of opens in a new windowextractive industries. In some cases, this State support to the opens in a new windowextractive industries has been institutionalised by categorising opens in a new windowmining and agribusiness as essential services, while criminalising the economic activities of the Africa region’s people.
To share and reflect on the experience of several African countries during the COVID-19 crisis, WoMin and its allies (Home-F – opens in a new windowHealth of Mother Earth Foundation, AIDC – opens in a new windowAlternative Information and Development Centre, opens in a new windowGRAIN, CADTM – opens in a new windowCommittee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt) organised a first Pan-African dialogue. This discussion brought together more than fifty African and international activists around a dialogue entitled: People in Lockdown, opens in a new windowExtractive Industries in Business. Case studies on different extractive sectors were presented, revealing the actions of States and opens in a new windowextractive industries over the past year, and exposing the destructive impacts of opens in a new windowextractivism on communities across the continent. It was also an opportunity to reflect on the actions that African activists and communities across the continent can take to resist destructive opens in a new windowextractivism during the COVID-19 health crisis.
The dialogue highlighted the reality that the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis will be long felt in Africa after the health crisis as the effects of lockdowns have seen an increase in the collusion between neoliberal African governments and transnational corporations in opens in a new windowextractive industries. The 6 case studies presented were in French and English with participants divided into Anglophone and Francophone working groups. They are available to read and download in summary form below.
Some critical common threads emerged from the case studies during the dialogue. Communities are still victims of the inequalities created by the opens in a new windowcapitalist and neo-liberal system of so-called “development.” Many of the communities presented in the case studies benefitted little to nothing from the big business corporate measures during the COVID-19 health crisis. Development promises made to communities by States and corporations/transnational companies are proving to be false. In all cases, communities are being dispossessed of their main livelihood, which is land. The activities of corporations have negative impacts on both the environment and communities and are increasingly unsustainable in the context of the global climate crisis. Going forward, it will be critical to amplify and strengthen community awareness of the political stakes of industrial agricultural and extractivist exploitation of natural resources. Regionally, these frontline voices must be supported through advocacy and campaigns towards African institutions and to hold transnational corporations accountable.
What are the Pan-African Dialogues?
The Pan-African dialogues are a series of spaces co-hosted by WoMin and our allies to explore key conversations around opens in a new windowextractivism in its multiple forms as well as amplify voices and innovative community-centred solutions and alternatives ties across the African continent. Look out for upcoming dialogues throughout 2021.