The demand for Africa's natural resources continues to grow despite uncertainties in the global financial system. Diminishing reserves in traditional production areas combined with high commodity prices and technological innovations are driving exploration activities across the continent, resulting in the discovery of significant new gas, oil and mineral reserves. Investment flows reflect broader changes to the global economy, as BRICS and other non-traditional investors increased their footprint on the continent leading to an African 'resources boom' since 2002.
Amid the surge of interest in Africa's natural resource wealth the relationship between the state, private capital, communities and the environment is being questioned on a number of fronts. A number of African states have revisited policies on taxation, ownership, beneficiation and skills transfer in the mining sector in recent years. Various international and regional efforts have been launched to increase transparency and traceability in natural resource sectors. Co-management efforts have, with varying degrees of success, attempted to give local resource users greater say in the management of forestry and fisheries resources. Despite these efforts, natural resource use will inevitably impact on the health of natural systems and on local societies that rely on these systems to support their livelihoods. Political processes and institutions are required to mediate the conflicts that arise between national and local development priorities, the competition for land and water use, and the imperatives of conservation, development and rural livelihood practices.
In this context, it is essential to explore new thinking in the field of natural resource governance, and consider how the current experiences of African states may provide lessons for a model of sustainable prosperity on the continent. Thus, it is important to explore new theory in the field of natural resources governance.