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Resource curse in Africa

09 Mar 2023 at 04:09hrs | Views
Saltpan Walvis Bay - Image by Lando Hamukwaya from Pixabay
The African continent is bestowed with so much natural wealth such as diamonds, coal, petroleum, natural gas, copper, and uranium to mention a few. Still, it has been the poorest continent in the world for so long. Africa is blessed with a wide variety of resources including human and natural resources. This begs the question of why these resources have not been transformed and utilized to the benefit of residents on the continent.

Africa is indeed a painful curse because it has plenty of natural resources, brilliant minds, and educated people but it is the poorest of the poor in the world. The incidence of poverty in Africa is multifaceted and cannot be traced to a single cause. Factors including corruption, poor governance, and leadership, weak Institutions, intractable wars, and conflicts are the main cause of underdevelopment in Africa.

The resource curse according to the oxford dictionary refers to the paradox that countries with an abundance of natural resources tend to have less economic growth, less democracy, and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources

Despite its claim to large reserves of resources, Africa remains the poorest continent in the world because of nepotism and corruption. The leaders of many African countries engage themselves in politics to satisfy their personal needs and fulfil the wishes of their relatives. Their focus is amassing wealth whiles in power and thus very little attention is given to state institutions that are relevant in building up the economies of African countries and making them sustainable. This systematically creates a situation of poverty and inequality where only a few influential and rich people in the society mostly politicians and their allies benefit from the political and economic system. A massive sum of money is used for the benefit of a few private individuals and their families. If this amount were to be reinvested in the African economy and used to rebuild factories, schools, and hospitals, I am sure it would result in economic growth.

An illustration of corruption is in Congo, whereby Joseph Kabila and his family are among the richest people not just in that country but on the entire African continent, owing their wealth to diamond mining this is a clear abuse of position, and yet Congo as a country which consistently records an unimaginable number of deaths of innocent lives due to poverty.

The other example of corruption is the former President of Nigeria, Sani Abacha who was estimated to be worth $20 million. If this massive amount would have been channelled for the provision of amenities in the country, Nigeria would not have the problems of erratic power supply, bad roads, poor health services, insecurity, high rate of poverty, and high level of unemployment the high rate of dropout of school-aged children. Hence this is a country where the majority are unemployed. A country where innocent lives are lost by the second simply because hospitals are not able to access the needed electricity in treating patients. This is a country where innocent people die just because they could not access a mere $10 for medical treatment of preventable diseases such as malaria, and yet leaders in charge of the national and natural resources are speedily making themselves billionaires by the day. How can a president, a public servant in such a country end up being a billionaire at the expense of innocent lives, if not for corruption?

Nigeria has taken giant strides backward notwithstanding the fact that it is a major petroleum-producing country. The plundering of its petroleum wealth has made Nigeria one of the world's poorest nations. This shows that the African leaders' focus is on amassing wealth whiles in power and thus very little attention is given to state institutions that are relevant in building up the economies of African countries. Africa has become a haven for despotic leaders who are using their political muscles to plunder the continent's natural resources. In African countries, basic things like electricity and clean water cannot be provided by the government whilst the leaders build mansions and live a lavish life. Once they taste the power they won't leave it as they thrive on intimidation and abductions.

African leadership is squarely to blame for the stagnation, decay, and backwardness in the continent. The African leaders hardly have the sense of serving the people instead, the rulers instill fear in the people who elect them.

Some leaders like Robert Mugabe destroyed the Zimbabwean economy reducing the once admired bread basket of Southern Africa into a basket case. Apart from the deep corruption in many African states, the existence of natural resources is a potential source of conflict and this tends to erode the government's ability to function properly. The effects of conflicts on societies and communities continue to render many Africans poor. Several countries in Africa have been through civil wars at a point in time. When conflicts break out, the level of productivity and investment which is already low plummets even further. It becomes unattractive for private organizations to invest their capital in countries that are in conflict.

Governments also spend a lot of their limited funds on conflicts. Coupled with all these is the rise in unemployment. The effects of conflicts on societies and communities continue to render many Africans poor. Several countries in Africa have been through civil wars at a point in time. There have been long-running civil wars in African countries such as Angola, Burundi, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda. In times of conflict, many state resources which could have been used to alleviate poverty levels in such countries are wasted on relief services and post-conflict peacebuilding in times of conflict there are violations of human rights, and child soldiers are denied access to education and freedom of association.
Africa remains the worst of all continents as if we are cursed yet we are not even cursed at all. There the continent needs changes for the country to have sustainable development and economic growth.

Africa is also underdeveloped because it is still colonized by its former colonizers. France is incredibly desperate to hold on to its former colonies. That's why France never actually gave their colonies the opportunity to be independent. It is nothing but an illusion that is supposed to make the people feel like they are free and independent and responsible for their own fate, while France still controls almost every significant aspect of their former colonies.

In 2008, former French President Jacques Chirac stated that without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third-world country. Industrial France has nothing to offer that would explain why it is still one of the richest countries in the world. The only reason the country is still as wealthy as it was 50 years ago being that the neo-colonial system puts about 500 billion US dollars a year from Africa into its treasury.

China is the main culprit where African resources are being exchanged for infrastructural project development. We now even have a case where China through its vast reserves and investment banks is buying out former colonial resource companies all over Africa and cheaply transferring vast amounts of resources to China. In return, they are building roads, railways, and schools and even provide food aid as if theirs is the concern for Africa's development and poverty yet it's about them. The curse of Africa's resources continues unabated while poverty continues to spread.

Unless we break the vicious cycle of greed, Africa will never reach its full potential. I suggest that inclusive, responsive, and accountable governments are a necessity for combating corruption in Africa. The importance of strong institutions and reasonably fair distribution of resources are also emphasized. Finally, there must be long-term plans to address poverty. Poverty is not only limited to Africa. The eradication or significant reduction in poverty levels in Africa cannot be done with simple and generalized solutions. There must be dedicated long-term plans with strong political commitments to alleviate poverty in the African region. National efforts toward economic reform should be enhanced by regionally concerted support systems. Africa should show the need to expedite the implementation of sound proposals through greater commitment, speed, and effectiveness in translating good intentions into concrete and results-oriented actions on the continent.

Jeremie Kalombo is in her final year doing international relations at Africa University. The views expressed in this article are the author's own

Source - Jeremie Kalombo
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