SAIIA Conference – Lifting the Resources Curse in Africa
27 November 2007
For many African countries, natural resource abundance, whether minerals, oil, timber or fisheries has been a curse rather than a blessing. Resource wealth in Africa is strongly correlated with national underdevelopment, high levels of corruption, environmental degradation and proneness to war and conflict. Resource-rich African countries are often characterised by a toxic mixture of authoritarian, non-democratic leadership and elite kleptocratic behaviour. Commodity dependence also makes many African economies structurally uncompetitive in other sectors such as manufacturing.
Current all time high commodity prices are intensifying the new scramble for Africa’s natural resources with the risk that the patterns of underdevelopment, corruption and conflict will deepen, thereby retarding progress on the continent and even reversing some of the recent gains made through the good governance initiatives such as NEPAD, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the Kimberley Process.
New and emerging players on the African continent such as China, India and Brazil add another dimension to the mix and it is still unclear whether or not their extractive operations on the continent will impact on governance, or indeed propel conflict over Africa’s riches. In addition, resource rich African countries are confronted with other profound challenges such as those of climate change, energy insecurity and water scarcity, further complicating an already complex picture.
What can be done to break free of the resources curse that blights so many African countries? Why do some resource abundant countries do far better than others? Why are some resource abundant countries stable and democratic and yet others are virtually failed states? What role can African institutions of governance play in breaking this cycle? Are resource and extractive companies increasingly a force for economic development or a root of the problem? Can NGOs play any useful role in lifting the resources curse? Which extractive policy initiatives are showing signs of success in Africa and can those successes be entrenched, shared and expanded across sectors and countries?
These are some of the key questions that will be tackled at SAIIA’s international conference to launch its ‘Governance of Africa’s Resources Programme’. The conference will be held on Wednesday 28 November and Thursday 29 November at SAIIA head office on Wits Campus.
We extend a warm welcome to you to attend and participate in the conference and conduct interviews with local, regional and international experts in the field.
For further information, please contact Leaza Kolkenbeck-Ruh: Tel. +27 (0)11 339 2021, Fax. +27 (0)11 339 2154, Cell. +27 (0)82 427 6212, firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.saiia.org.za