The Second Scramble for Africa's Oil and Mineral Resources: Blessing or Curse?
This article, while critically examining the second wave of the scramble for oil and mineral resources of the African countries, advocates for the people themselves, not just the governments, to be involved. Historically, the scramble for Africa's economic resources by the European countries that began in colonial times never ceased as such, even with decolonization, owing to the continent's strategic resource richness. What appears to be new in the current situation is the emergence of new non-traditional "customers" in the struggle for the control of the resources by some non-European nations, in particular America and some Asian countries, led by China. If there is any difference at all from the past in the way America and China joined the scramble for Africa's oil and mineral resources, it is in the strategy they adopted, one showing itself as a "superior," while the other presents itself as a "partner." The most important reasons for the current wave of second scramble for oil and mineral resources of Africa are: strategic location, lack of obstacles for transportation of its oil, quality of oil, less complicated contractual conditions, and non-membership of OPEC by many of the oil-producing countries in the continent. The heart of the problem of this scramble lies in the fact that while the resource exploration and exploitation by all stakeholders could be beneficial to the people if properly done, the scourges of corruption, environmental degradation, and human rights abuses have taken the upper hand. This being so, this paper further advocates a solution ensuring democratic accountability, reform of the constitutions for more respect for private property rights over natural resources, and finally, reform of the judiciary to provide more access to individuals and groups seeking to enforce their fundamental human rights. The article also rebuts the sharp criticism in some quarters that the proposed remedies contained herein are still not achievable even with great political will demonstrated by the governments of African countries.
42 Int'l Law 193 (2008).