The Director of the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), Dr. Elias T. Ayuk, called on the South African High Commissioner, Her Excellency, Ms Lulama Xingwana, and the Zambian High Commissioner, His Excellency, Timothy Mwaba Walamba during separate visits in Accra. The visits which aimed at improving UNU-INRA’s working relationship with key government officials in Africa, provided the platform for the Institute and the High Commissions to deliberate on issues affecting natural resources management in Africa.
At the South African High Commission, some of the discussions focused on how many African countries can transform their wastes into wealth in order to address poor sanitation challenges across the continent. The UNU-INRA Director, Dr. Ayuk stated that the Institute has been carrying out research projects in the area of wastewater management and cited a recent study that revealed that an African grass species of vetiver could treat waste water for reuse.
The issue of high importation of food products into many African countries also emerged strongly at the meeting. Dr Ayuk observed that there is the need for African governments to provide incentives for rural farmers to produce more foods for export. He underscored the need to improve trade infrastructure and lessen the stringent regulations at some corridors to improve trade among African countries. He further added that Africa would need to invest more in agriculture to adapt to climate change impacts on food production, since evidence from UNU-INRA’s project for ECOWAS and other reports suggest that climate impact may be severe, hence the need for more resources to mitigate its effects on food security in Africa. Touching on the issue of oil price fluctuation, he advised African governments to explore the creation of sovereign wealth funds that can be invested to buffer falling prices.
The visit to the Zambia High Commission on the other hand, offered the opportunity for UNU-INRA to express its appreciation to the government of Zambia for being one of the few African countries that is contributing to the Institute’s endowment fund. The Zambian High Commissioner to Ghana, H.E. Walamba, thanked the UNU-INRA Director for the visit and urged the Institute to continue to promote sustainable management of African’s rich resources for development. He also called on other African countries to emulate the example of Zambia, Ghana and other African countries that are contributing to the United Nations University’s endowment fund for UNU-INRA.
UNU-INRA presented key publications including policy briefs on natural resources management issues to the High Commissions. These documents aim at informing policies for the sustainable management of Africa’s natural resources.