Africa has been blessed with abundant natural resources, but too seldom have these resources benefitted the average African citizen. A hearing on efforts to examine strategies to better ensure that African governments use revenues that come from natural resources for the benefit of their people was held Thursday by Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees Africa.
The hearing, entitled “Is There an African Resource Curse?” featured NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin from the San Francisco 49ers and other witnesses testifying before an open hearing of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.
“The resource curse refers to the paradox in which countries and regions with an abundance of natural resources, specifically non-renewable resources like minerals and fuels, tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources,” said Smith. “This is believed to happen for many different reasons, including a decline in the competitiveness of other economic sectors, the volatility of revenues from the natural resource sector due to global commodity market swings, government mismanagement of resources, or weak, ineffectual, unstable or corrupt institutions.
“Africa has abundant natural resources—from critical and desirable agricultural products such as gum arabic to strategic minerals such as cobalt, titanium and coltan to energy resources such as petroleum and natural gas. However, under the so-called African resource curse, African citizens don't benefit from these resources to the extent that would be expected. Education, health care and other services too often are not provided to citizens by their governments who profit from African resources, but rather are too often paid for by donors.” Click here to read Smith’s opening remarks, or watch the hearing.
Boldin, representing the humanitarian group Oxfam America, thanked the subcommittee for taking up the issue, and spoke about his experiences visiting Africa.
“Mr. Chairman, thank you for inviting me here today,” Boldin said. “I believe the issues that will be discussed here are critically important to the future of Africa. The idea of a resource curse in Africa is extremely compelling.
“As a professional athlete, I believe strongly in fair play,” he said. “I believe that the U.S. Congress can play an important role in helping ensure fair play for Africans and that the money produced by the gold, oil and other resources that come out of Africa’s ground are used to help all Africans prosper. I hope that you will join me in taking action to ensure that this happens.” Click here to read Boldin’s statement.
- Corinna Gilfillan, Director of Global Witness, USA
- Mohammed Amin Adam, Executive Director, Africa Centre for Energy Policy
- Anquan Boldin, Ambassador, Oxfam America
- Tutu Alicante, Executive Director of EG Justice
Click here to read their testimonies or watch the hearing.