The resource curse refers to the paradox that countries with an abundance of natural resources often fail to grow as rapidly as those without such resources. Sub-Saharan Africa typifies this situation, in that its economic development lags behind the rest of the world in spite of its wealth of oil, gas, and minerals.

In addition, negative impacts on human rights and the environment associated with the exploitation of natural resources are evident. Meanwhile, other resource-rich countries, such as Norway and Chile, have achieved high levels of development, turning their resources into a blessing.

This policy brief outlines both the endogenous and exogenous factors that contribute significantly to the situation in sub-Saharan Africa. It concludes with recommendations—aimed at national governments, national and international civil society, international bodies, and the extractive industry— on how best to escape the resource curse.

Manuella Appiah and Ting Zhang are both researchers at The Hague Institute for Global Justice under the Global Governance and Conflict Prevention programs, respectively.

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