Albert Kwame Osei-Owusu on Assessing Africa’s position and prospects in global dematerialization

WIDER Seminar Series

Albert Kwame Osei-Owusu on Assessing Africa’s position and prospects in global dematerialization

Albert Kwame Osei-Owusu presents at the WIDER Seminar Series on 16 November 2022.

Assessing Africa’s position and prospects in global dematerialization


Africa is endowed with abundant arable land and diverse natural resources; thus, it is strategically positioned and important as a major global raw material supplier and in the global quest for resource efficiency and productivity (SDG 12.3), both critical for meeting the Paris Agreement.

However, the rapidly expanding global value chains and the increasing reliance of the global North on Africa’s natural resources are placing enormous pressure on the continent’s natural resources and adversely impacting biodiversity and livelihoods. Conversely, Africa’s rising demand for imported goods has also been linked to relatively modest but increasing resource use abroad.

Yet, to date, only a handful of African countries track their global supply chain raw material footprints besides domestic extraction and trade of raw materials in physical mass. Moreover, to our knowledge, Africa has no flagship policy programme targeting natural resource governance and raw material use efficiency.

Based on our recently published paper, we present the results of the global raw material footprints of 51 African nations from 1995 to 2015. Also, we divulge the principal socio-economic and institutional drivers of Africa’s global raw material footprint while demystifying their distinct impact pathways applicable to the continent’s much-needed policy interventions. Following our findings, we underscore the importance of strong institutions and inclusive governance in Africa towards eradicating corruption linked to resource rent-seeking and growing public debt that propels natural resource over-exploitation and depletion on the continent.

Finally, we recommend the transfer of material-efficient production technologies to Africa and sustainable consumer lifestyles worldwide, especially in Africa’s rich industrialised import partner countries overseas, which are critical for responsible management of Africa’s natural resource wealth to foster its poverty alleviation agenda and human capital development.

About the author

Albert Osei-Owusu is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Danish Centre for Environmental Assessment of the Department of Planning at Aalborg University. In this capacity, he is a member of a team of the ‘Getting the data right (GTDR)’ project aimed at providing a complete, detailed and consistent global multi-regional input-output database compared to existing ones to support industries, households and countries decisions and actions towards climate mitigation and a sustainable present and future. Albert deploys big data with local, national and global coverages, particularly multi-regional input-output and life cycle assessment databases, to quantify scope-3/consumption-based accounting sustainability metrics for diverse industries and socio-demographic households. His research focuses on the global supply chain environmental pressures embodied in consumption and trade and investigates the lifestyle choices that could deliver reductions in greenhouse gases and resource use efficiency.

Before taking up his current position, Albert completed a PhD in Environmental Economics at Aarhus University, Denmark. During his PhD, he focused on providing the industry stakeholders and consumers of Denmark’s agricultural industry with product climate and natural resource footprint metrics for policy solutions required for sustainable transitions. He has since contributed to different inter-disciplinary research and projects on sustainable consumption and production, food loss and waste prevention and circular economy transitions.

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases the latest research on key topics in development economics. It provides a forum for senior and early-career researchers, both in-house and external, to present recent and ongoing work related to UNU-WIDER’s current work programme.

In addition to providing a forum for both academic debate and training, the series presents an opportunity for policy makers and others interested in development to learn about the latest research methods and findings.

The Seminar Series events take place on Wednesdays. All those interested are invited to register and attend via Zoom.