Where Did Africa’s Resource Curse Go?

Where Did Africa’s Resource Curse Go?

 

Many African countries possess abundant oil and minerals. While this may seem like a blessing, the influential “resource curse” hypothesis holds that natural resource abundance hinders political and economic development. Resource-rich countries are said to be more prone to negative outcomes ranging from slow economic growth, underinvestment in human capital, and environmental degradation to corruption, authoritarian rule, and violent conflict. In the midst of a protracted boom of global oil and mineral prices, which is encouraging greater resource extraction in Africa, the prospect of a resource curse is of particular concern for the region. 

Early research on the resource curse tended to posit direct effects of natural resource extraction on negative economic and political outcomes, but more recent studies have focused on the importance of governance in determining whether natural resources are a blessing or a curse. That is, the impact of natural resources on development is now seen to depend heavily on how and how well those resources are governed. This paper surveys the scholarly literature on natural resources and development, with a thematic focus on issues of governance and a geographical focus on sub-Saharan Africa. It takes stock of the state of current knowledge and defines an agenda for further research relevant to Africa’s development challenges.

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