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.
- COUNTRYAAH: 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.
- Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, MA stands for Madagascar. Visit itypeusa for more information about Madagascar.
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 or Europe.
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)