Africa asked to move away from notion of ‘resource curse’

Hailemariam Desalegn – Ethiopian Prime Minister

African countries have been asked to move away from the notion known as the ‘resource curse’. It is the notion that countries endowed with natural resources tend not to do well both economically and socially. These countries, instead of developing, remain mostly poor and in some cases become dysfunctional states.

Speaking at the African Development Forum, last week, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, called on delegates to reject that notion.

“We must reject this line of thinking categorically and unequivocally. Doing otherwise would mean succumbing to fatalism and defeatism. It would also mean endorsing a view which is just plain wrong,” he said.

To dispel the myth of the resource curse he pointed towards a resource rich nation like Norway, which has attained high levels of development, as have resource poor states like South Korea and Japan.

By way of an antidote he pointed to the need to make judicious use of mineral resources and address issues related to policy deficiencies.

“The case of Botswana is instructive. At independence, Botswana had 12 kilometers of paved road, 22 university graduates and a hundred secondary school graduates. Yet today Botswana is a middle income country. For Botswana, diamonds did not turn out to be a curse but a blessing”, Hailemariam said.

Referring to what he called ‘wise decisions’ on the part of the government of Botswana, he asked participants at the Forum to take inspiration from Botswana’s creation of a national fund for diamond wealth, its resistance against the urge to mine diamonds too quickly in order to ensure they are mined at a pace where profits could be spent responsibly, and the careful selection of  projects to be funded by the national fund.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister also called for putting natural resources at the centre stage in development plans.

“This can be done in myriad ways; including by encouraging public-private partnerships, ensuring that resources are exploited sustainably with an eye towards preserving them for the future generations, and not by relegating agriculture and the rural parts of our country to the periphery of our economic plans”, he said.

Citing Ethiopia, he said the country  has taken steps to put natural resources at the front and center in development programmes . He noted that his government has placed a premium on food security to enhance and modernize agriculture, out of the conviction that one cannot neglect a sector employing  the vast majority of its citizens.

In addition his government has launched its Climate Resilient Green Economy Initiative to ensure the nation’s economic development.

By Samson Haileyesus

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.