Since the prices for natural resources like metals, energy and
agricultural products started to sharply increase in 2001, many
optimists expected resource abundant countries to soon become rich and
prosperous. Today, the situation is different: the economic crisis had
impact on the resource sector as well. Only when referring to some
exceptional products one can still consider it to be a boom period for
resource rich countries.
Even before the global economic crisis,
expectations could not be fulfilled. The belief, that resource
abundance could help people to improve their living conditions in a
fundamental and sustainable way, had soon been proven wrong by reality.
Unfortunately it was approved what scholars use to call the “resource
curse” or the “paradox of the plenty”. There are many reasons why
resource abundance has only such small benefits for local populations.
Most frequently, unequal contracts are named to be one of the causes,
since these contracts only benefit big companies, but leave out states
as well as environmental standards and standards of social security.
many resource-rich countries suffer from high external debt. Their
repayments take a large share of state’s revenues. The rest is taken by
national elites, at the expense of those, who suffer most from the
impact of resource extraction. Eventually, the company revenues are
transferred abroad, which prevents investments and a diversification of
the resource centred economic structure.
Against the background
of these problems, the future challenge seems to be the creation of a
framework, which ties resource extraction in Southern Africa to three
conditions: an equal redistribution of revenues, compliance with social
and environmental standards and adherence of the right of
co-determination of the local population.