Natural resources, energy and environment
Madagascar has plenty of natural resources,
but many of them are untapped. The mining industry is
small but is growing rapidly. In the mines, for example,
nickel, cobalt, chrome, ilmenite, mica, graphite and
precious stones are mined. Electricity is generated
mainly from hydropower. Around one in seven residents
has access to electricity.
Mining contributes a negligible share of the
country's GDP (less than 1 percent) and employs an
equally small share of the labor force. One reason for
this is that the find sites are often inaccessible and
that the extraction is therefore expensive. Another
reason for the low importance of the mining industry has
been that foreign investors are frightened by uncertain
conditions for extraction. In 2002, for example, new
laws were introduced that encouraged foreign investment
in the mining industry, but in 2009 a new government let
all contracts with foreign mining companies freeze. At
the end of the 2010s, interest in mining of Malagasy
natural resources increased again.
Major exports by Madagascar with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Gemstone mining is a growing industry. In 1998,
sapphires were found in an area in the southern
hinterland. Nowadays around half of the world's newly
produced sapphires are delivered from there. Topazs,
grenades, rubies, emeralds and amethysts are also mined
in the country.
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Extraction of the mineral ilmenite (formerly called
titanium iron) began on a larger scale in 2009, despite
concern for the environment at the bottom of the south
where the ore is located. Ilmenit is included in a
number of different products, including pigments in
paint, toothpaste and sunscreen. To the east of the
capital Antananarivo is a large nickel mine. Copper and
cobalt are also mined.
Small amounts of oil were found off the coast of
Madagascar in the early 1980s. The first crude oil was
pumped up in 2008. Oil deposits have been discovered
both at sea and on land.
Invest in hydropower
Around 85 percent of Madagascar's energy needs are
covered by charcoal and wood. The consumption of wood
helps to reduce the forest area and causes soil
degradation. The rest of the energy needs are covered by
oil and electricity purchased from abroad.
More than half of the country's electricity
consumption is covered by domestic hydropower, the rest
is extracted from oil-fired thermal power plants. The
government is trying to invest in renewable energy
sources; in June 2018, a plant for solar energy
production was opened in the town of Ambohiphaonana.
Investments in wind power are also ongoing.
Data on the proportion of residents who have access
to electricity vary. According to the country's own
energy ministry, only 15 percent of Madagascans have
access to electricity. Electricity supply varies greatly
between the cities and the countryside. In the cities,
84 percent of the inhabitants have access to
electricity, while the proportion is as low as 6 per
cent in rural areas. The Government's goal is for 70
percent of the population to have access to electricity
by 2030. Then, 85 percent of the electricity will come
from renewable sources, primarily hydropower.
Predatory on forest and animals
Madagascar forests have long been pushed back by a
growing population. In the countryside, new crops are
built with the help of burning. From the forest, wood is
collected for the households. Commercial logging on a
larger scale hardly existed until 2009, but valuable
types of wood such as rosewood and ebony have been used
by local timber industries and for crafts.
During the political chaos that erupted in 2009, a
plundering of natural resources started, led by criminal
leagues. Valuable woods were also harvested inside the
nature reserves. Nature conservationists who tried to
intervene against the looters were threatened and
beaten. The forests' animals not only lost their habitat
but were also directly attacked. During the year, a
previously unknown, commercial hunt was started on
semi-monkeys (lemurs), whose meat was sold to
restaurants known as bush meat. Other, sometimes
endangered animals were captured alive for being sold
illegally as pets to money-rich buyers in North America
According to a group of French researchers (Cirad),
Madagascar lost 44 percent of its original forest
between 1950 and 2010. Madagascar's environmental
ministry reports that 80 percent of the country's forest
areas have been destroyed, in whole or in part. The
government is trying to stop the devastation by
establishing new nature reserves. The country is also
receiving assistance from the World Bank to replant
forest for the purpose of preventing global warming.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
3 077 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
0.1 ton (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
70.2 percent (2015)