Canada is now a superpower in the African mining sector. According to the Ministry of Natural Resources Canada , only the Republic of South Africa, with over 35% of assets and investments, is just ahead of Canada in the African mining industry. But with South Africa’s assets concentrated on its own territory, Canada dominates the rest of the continent. In 2001, Canadian companies have operations in 35 countries. 91% of Canadian investments were concentrated in eight countries, with the order of countries’ importance being the following: South Africa (25.6%), DR Congo (17.8%), Madagascar (13.8%), Zambia (9.9%), Tanzania (9.5%), Ghana (6.5%), Burkina Faso (4.7%) and Mauritania (3%). Africa represented 11% of Canada’s US$25.8 billion in cumulative mining assets in 2001, a proportion which had risen to 17% of the total $85.9 billion in the same assets by 2007.
Canadian diplomacy is very much at the service of business interests . In this regard, the country at times pursues objectives seemingly at odds with its development agenda, some examples of which include:
-In 1996, the Canadian High Commissioner in Tanzania intervened on several occasions to influence revisions to mining legislation as a means of promoting Canadian business interests. And, specifically, in order to counter the legal claims of local miners questioning the legitimacy of the mining company Sutton and designs on Bulyanhulu deposits
- In June 2008, the staff of the very same High Commission energetically intervened in Tanzanian parliamentary affairs to ensure that the country’s politicians rejected the conclusions of the Presidential Mining Sector Review Committee on revisions of the mining sector. The Committee had recommended a greater proportion of profits generated by higher prices be kept for the country itself
- In 2004, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations had criticized a part of a report produced by the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources in the DR Congo, in which nine Canadian companies were accused of violating OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) guidelines during the country’s protracted war.
Canada’s image as a moderate country and disinterested development partner in Africa is now thoroughly outdated.