The abundance of natural resources in Africa doesn't go unnoticed by the rest of the world. China and the EU are big investors in African countries, with China importing over half of Mozambique's and Tanzania's timber (Africa-China). With such an exodus of forest products from Africa, it is imperative that these operations are run in a sustainable way.
Unfortunately, due to weak governance on the part of African countries and lack of accountability on the part of the consuming countries, the natural resources are extremely susceptible to over exploitation or even depletion. The legality of trade is another major issue, as there are often large discrepancies between export records and actual import numbers (What is the EITI). It is necessary for both the importing and exporting countries to be held accountable and responsible for sustainable trade of natural resources.
US implementation of the EITI in September, 2011
The World Wildlife Fund has taken action regarding this problem between China and Africa. They have partnered with the Department for International Development in the UK to help improve understanding of natural resource trade impacts and to ensure that they are meeting standards for sustainability (Africa-China). This project also involves cooperation with governments and communities in Africa to promote sustainable use of resources and increased benefits for local people, as addressed in the ICDPs.
The work being done by the WWF and others to encourage sustainable trade is strengthened by a push for political transparency on the part of all governments. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) was introduced in 2002 and has been implemented in over 30 countries. Implementation requires governments to enforce oil, gas and mining companies to disclose the payments that foreign countries demand of them. There are currently 20 EITI compliant countries, those which agree to disclose how much money they are receiving from foreign investors (What is the EITI).
How the EITI works (http://eiti.org/blog/eiti-expectations-necessary-not-sufficient)
Foreign powers, in the form of government and private companies, have been irresponsible in their extraction of resources from Africa. Without sufficient regulations and accountability on the part of African governments as well as foreign companies, illegal trade and unsustainable resource exploitation will continue. The activities of the WWF and the EITI are examples of progress in this area; combined efforts of international political forces to combat corruption and encourage accountability and transparency.