Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stop Ripping Off Your Country--A How-To Guide for African Presidents

From the Guardian:
A how-to guide for the political leaders of poor countries on how to manage natural resources was launched this week, aimed at ending the so-called "resource curse" plaguing the economic development of poor nations rich in oil, gas and other natural assets.

The Resource Charter [website here] is an 11-point plan prepared by a group of high-profile economists, lawyers and political scientists, including Michael Spence, 2001 laureate of the Nobel prize in economics; Robert Conrad, an expert on natural resources economics at Duke University, and Tony Venables and Paul Collier, professors of economics at Oxford University.

"We want to provide a policy toolkit," says Collier, who is also the author of the 2008 book The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. "We're not here to tell government off. We are saying to them: 'If you want to turn national assets into broad-based development, these are the key steps that you need to get right'. These steps are not obvious, as governments and societies have got them wrong over the years."
Question: But what happens when the governments aren't interested in using the resources for development? What if they're mostly interested in using them to pay off friends and buy off enemies? It's not exactly a hypothetical question. What's the agenda for activists in Africa, and their allies here in the developed world, to force them to use these resources for good?


  1. See Collier's November op-ed Guardian op-ed on Congo:

    "Basic services in Congo have been pitiful beyond belief: state bureaucracy is not the way to improve them. The challenge is to channel both government money and donor money into basic services in a coherent manner that does not rely on the ministries. What is needed is a massive contracting-out approach to health and education, using whatever agencies work: NGOs, churches, private firms, with performance monitored to the extent possible. Instead, donors and government share an attachment to the chimera of "building an effective state". Where it is feasible that goal is commendable, but in Congo it is unrealistic."