Natural resources refer to the materials or substances with which a nation has been endowed by nature and which are necessary for the production of human wants. They are mostly associated with land in all its ramifications.
Examples of natural resources are the minerals in the ground and vegetation. Natural resources in Nigeria include petroleum, gas, and solid minerals which also include gold, columbite, dolomite, tin ore, coal, bitumen, timber, limestone, marble, etc.
Quite some West African countries are also blessed with diverse natural resources that are yet to be maximally exploited to enhance the living standards of their citizens.
Importance of natural resources
The important natural resources in the
development of West African countries include the following:
(i) They contribute significantly to the economy
development by providing inputs for the production of commodities to satisfy the people’s wants.
.(ii) Investment in the exploitation of natural
resources contribute greatly to the growth of
the capital stock of the nation’s economy.
(iii) Export of natural resources such as crude oil, gas, and groundnut, catered the bulk of the foreign exchange gaining of most of the West African countries especially Nigeria.
(iv) The returns from the exploitation of natural resources in the form of oil block allocation fees and royalties, generate a substantial income for the country e.g. Nigeria.
(v) The exploitation of natural resources creates job opportunities for people.
(vi) Exploitation of natural resources creates an environment that is conducive for the development of the secondary and tertiary
the sector of the economy, for example, the manufacturing sector and tourism.
(vii) Natural area of resources agricultural exploitation development especially ensures in the the
provision of various crops to feed the people
and for exports as well as domestic use.
(viii) The potential of mining to stimulate growth transform society and reduce poverty in the country is not in doubt.
Note that strategic minerals in Nigeria are coal, bitumen, limestone, iron ore, barantes, gold, and lead/ zinc.
They are strategic minerals because of their
strategic importance to the Nigerian economy and their availability in quantities that are sufficient to sustain mining operations for a long time. It should also be noted that the sustainable use of Nigeria’s natural resources is fundamental to poverty reduction and long-term development of the country.
The solid mineral sub-sector with at least 34 mineral types if properly developed, has the potential to rival oil as a major revenue earner for the country, apart from its other comparative advantages over oil.
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