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Natural Resources and Conflict in Africa

Natural Resources and Conflict in Africa: The Tragedy of Endowment

Abiodun Alao
Volume: 29
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 205
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt81t74
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  • Book Info
    Natural Resources and Conflict in Africa
    Book Description:

    Conflict over natural resources has made Africa the focus of international attention, particularly during the last decade. From oil in Nigeria and diamonds in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to land in Zimbabwe and water in theHorn of Africa, the politi

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-696-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. [Map]
    (pp. vi-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xv)
    Abiodun Alao
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xvi-xx)
  7. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-13)

    The link between natural resources and conflict is probably as old as human settlement. Empires and kingdoms throughout history are known to have risen or fallen because of their victories or defeats in wars that were heavily laden with natural resource considerations.¹ History is also replete with examples of friendships and alliances forged by empires and kingdoms to defend access to, and control of, essential natural resources,² while efforts have always been made to appease those who might block access to sources of vital natural resources.³ This portrays the importance of natural resources to politics, diplomacy, and intergroup relations. The...

  8. 1 NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONFLICT IN AFRICA: FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING A LINKAGE
    (pp. 14-40)

    Although conflicts with natural resource underpinnings have historically engaged academic interest, efforts to draw thematic links between natural resources and conflict are of comparatively recent dating. Indeed, one of the earliest efforts to draw a link between natural resources and factors that predicate conflict was Malthus’ warning on the possible implications of natural resource scarcity that could come from overpopulation. The Malthusian philosophy dominated attention for generations and was to be the precursor of many subsequent writings on the subject.¹ Furthermore, that Malthus’ writing came during a period when two opposing schools of thought—mercantilism and revolutionary utopianism—dominated European...

  9. 2 POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY OF NATURAL RESOURCES IN AFRICA
    (pp. 41-62)

    In discussing conflicts over natural resources in Africa, we need to investigate the role geography plays in the whole equation. This is particularly important because the continent’s geographical attributes and limitations serve to explain the causes and manifestations of some of the conflicts. Furthermore, fundamental questions such as whether the continent’s natural resource endowments are sufficient for its needs, and whether there are specific geographical features that predispose Africa to natural resource conflicts beyond the crucial issue of governance identified as the key issue in this book, need to be properly investigated. Consequently, in this chapter I look at the...

  10. 3 LAND AND CONFLICT
    (pp. 63-111)

    Land is undoubtedly the most important natural resource in Africa. Its importance transcends economics into a breadth of social, spiritual, and political significance. Among other things, it is considered as the place of birth; the place where the ancestors are laid to rest; the place which the creator has designated to be passed down to successive generations; and the final resting place for every child born on its surface. Consequently, every society in Africa sees land as a natural resource that is held in trust for future generations, and the sacredness of this trust lies behind most of the conflicts...

  11. 4 THE CONFLICTS OVER SOLID MINERALS
    (pp. 112-156)

    Discussions in this chapter may have to be prefaced with the identification of the group of natural resources categorized here as “solid minerals.” Put simply, these are resources whose finished products come in solid form. Included here are natural resources such as copper, diamonds, gold, and iron. Two considerations justify a separate discussion of this class of natural resources. First, some of them, notably diamonds, have featured prominently in many of Africa’s recent conflicts, making them perhaps the most controversial natural resource in the continent’s post-Cold War conflicts. Second these resources evoke peculiar characteristics in their recent linkage with conflict,...

  12. 5 CONFLICTS INVOLVING OIL
    (pp. 157-206)

    Next to solid minerals, the natural resource whose linkage with conflicts has generated perhaps nearly as much interest and attention in Africa is oil. This is due to a number of factors, including the resource’s high degree of profitability, the environmental consequences of its exploration, the international nature of its politics, and its role in the ethnopolitical and socioeconomic affairs of the endowed countries. In recent years, however, also important in explaining the recognition accorded to oil, is the string of “sympathies” that seem to be coming to local communities believed to be suffering from the consequences of oil exploration....

  13. 6 WATER AND CONFLICT
    (pp. 207-241)

    Like land, water’s link with conflict lies deep in history, as over the centuries societies have fought to protect access to, and sources of, water supply.¹ In modern times, the increasing diversification in its uses has further increased the ways through which water has been linked to politics, conflict, and diplomacy. For Africans, the importance of the resource is further reinforced by its sociocultural and religious significance, as the sources of major rivers have been known to serve as deities through which people engage in communion with the supreme being.² There are, however, ways in which water differs from other...

  14. 7 GOVERNANCE AND NATURAL RESOURCE CONFLICTS
    (pp. 242-276)

    Discussions in the preceding chapters have shown that recent conflicts over natural resources in Africa have raised a number of questions, two of which are particularly important. First, why has there been a prevalence of such a category of conflicts in Africa, as compared with other continents of the world? Second, why are some natural resources linked to conflicts in some countries and not in others; or put differently, what are the circumstances and/or political dispensation that can predispose a particular natural resource to become an issue of conflict? In seeking to provide answers to these questions, one is inevitably...

  15. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 277-284)

    In this book I have advanced a number of major arguments. The first is that the tendency to see natural resources either as a “curse” or a “blessing,” or the conflicts emanating from them as being rooted in “scarcity” or “abundance,” is inherently flawed. I have argued that what natural resources are, the role they can play in the socioeconomic and political affairs of a particular country, and their vulnerability to causing conflicts, are mainly functions of the laws, structures, and practices guiding the management of such resources—especially the distribution of privileges and opportunities from them—and not the...

  16. NOTES
    (pp. 285-326)
  17. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 327-336)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 337-354)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 355-357)