Saturday, 6 December 2008

Moving Past the Curse of Black Gold

There is a silver lining in every cloud and it is truly an ill wind that blows no one no good. The international economic recession that is gripping the Western nations and forcing down the price of oil, has forced African nations dependent on crude oil to diversify their economies. Sudan expects its oil revenues to decline by 44% in 2009 and as such is forced to invest in its agriculture and industrial sectors. Nigeria on the other hand is forecasting a growth projection of 8.9% in 2009 led by non-oil industries. If this trend continues it might be the kind of crisis that creates an atmosphere for building a steady development trend to alleviate poverty and stabilise economies.

How is that possible? Because the wealth generated by the oil industries in Africa is enjoyed by a privileged few and used to oppress the impoverished majority- the war in Darfur in Sudan and the injustices suffered by the Ijaw people in Nigerian delta are recent examples. Also, the issue of food security is still a major concern and the President of Malawi, Mr. Mutharika has been commended for transforming his country from a food importer to an exporter in 3 years; from 2005 - 2007. His simple and practical government program for subsidising the price of fertilizer was not supported by the USA or Britain but his critics have been proved wrong. African leaders need to continue to set their own agenda and try out their solutions and policies, that is how we will truly come to enjoy the benefits of a viable nation state.

In itself crude oil is neither a vice nor a virtue but an opportunity to use natural resources for whatever means. However, it has long been used to grease the wheels of mismanagement and the sound of it creaking, plays like music to those whom have had their voices drowned out by its machinations.

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