Africa

The resource curse

Published 5:46 AM ET, Mon April 18, 2016
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A gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country holds natural resources worth trillions of dollars but the population is blighted with extreme poverty and violence.
In a new edition of his book 'The Looting Machine,' investigative journalist Tom Burgis explores why resource-rich states are failing their people.
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Ugandan Prime Minster Apolo Milton Obote, speaking on stage following the declaration of Ugandan independence, Uganda, September 10th 1962.

Burgis argues that the exploitation of colonialism continued after independence in many African states, as new ruling elites used natural resources to enhance their wealth and power at the expense of their public.
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International mining companies were allowed to maintain power in independent African states, despite their involvement with colonial-era exploitation and atrocities. FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Botswana has sought to counter-act the 'resource curse' effect by building high-skill industries such as diamond polishing, rather than just exporting raw materials. MONIRUL BHUIYAN/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Innoson Motors factory in Nnewi. Nigeria is attempting to diversify its economy away from oil dependency, and towards manufacturing. innoson
The global supply chain still relies on cheap raw materials from Africa, which makes Western governments and consumers complicit in the crimes around resource extraction, says Burgis. Bruno Vincent/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
Some measures have been taken to address the issue, such as the Kimberley Process to stop 'blood diamond' trafficking.

Burgis argues that the most effective move would be a global public registry of companies and trusts, to combat the secrecy of offshore financing that enables illicit resource deals.
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