War Resources in Africa

December 4, 1942

Report Outline
Developed and Undeveloped African Resources
Economic Resources of North Africa
Vichy Territory; Neutral Africa; Former Axis Territory
Contributions of Allied Africa
Special Focus

Developed and Undeveloped African Resources

Principal Raw Materials Available in Africa

Invasion of French North Africa by American and British forces has again focused attention on “the Dark Continent's storehouse of raw materials.” Contrary to popular belief, Africa is not richly endowed with natural resources, nor is it an important contributor to the world's production of wealth. Africa has only 4.5 per cent of the world's export trade and only 4.8 per cent of the world's import trade. On the other hand, the continent produces a large proportion of the World output of certain commodities—gold, diamonds, cobalt, chrome ore, vegetable oilseeds, cocoa, sisal—and important quantities of manganese, tin, copper and phosphates.

Large known reserves of many minerals on the continent are unexploited in certain areas; underexploited in other areas. Similarly, agricultural output lags far behind potential production. Industrial development is negligible except in the Union of South Africa.

Causes of Underdevelopment in Dark Continent

The relative poverty of the Continent of Africa results from a combination of factors—geographical and sociological; political and economic. Large areas, especially the Sahara and tropical coastal regions, are not suitable for agriculture. Among the native population of central Africa, there is a marked prevalence of malaria, sleeping sickness, venereal disease, and intestinal disorders in many forms. Large sections of the continent have shortages of manpower. With 23 per cent of the world's area, Africa (with a total of approximately 150,000,000 inhabitants) has only 7 per cent of the world's population. A serious lack of transportation facilities makes it unprofitable, if not impossible, to exploit the resources of certain regions.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Mar. 23, 1990  U.S. Role in South Africa's Future
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Jan. 17, 1986  Angola and the Reagan Doctrine
Sep. 09, 1983  South Africa's ‘Total Strategy’
Jul. 14, 1978  African Policy Reversal
Sep. 03, 1976  Africa and the Big Powers
Apr. 04, 1975  Southern Africa in Transition
Dec. 06, 1974  Ethiopia in Turmoil
May 09, 1973  African Nation Building
Feb. 28, 1968  Nigeria at War
Nov. 02, 1966  White Outposts in Southern Africa
Feb. 03, 1965  Congo Dilemma
Aug. 12, 1964  Red Rivalry in Africa
May 22, 1963  Political Turmoil in Southern Africa
Nov. 02, 1960  Tribalism and Nationalism in Africa
Sep. 28, 1960  Education for Africans
Apr. 10, 1959  Power Struggles in Colonial Africa
Aug. 20, 1958  Algerian Conflicts
Apr. 09, 1958  White Supremacy in South Africa
Sep. 11, 1957  Future of Algeria
Apr. 03, 1957  Political Awakening of Black Africa
Sep. 17, 1952  Africa and the West
Feb. 20, 1952  Nationalism in North Africa
Dec. 04, 1942  War Resources in Africa
May 29, 1935  Pre-War and Post-War Imperialism in Africa
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Mining
Regional Political Affairs: Africa
U.S. at War: World War II