Jeleel Balyaminu, Natural Resource Governance and Socio-Cultural Conditions in Africa: From Policy to Practice

1. Problem background

Africa is the second largest continent in the world, which is rich in natural resources, including renewable resources such as fishery, forestry, land and water resources and non-renewable resources, such as minerals reserves (Grant, et al., 2015). These resources are not only economic development assets but also social, cultural and ontological resources being symbols of socio-cultural and national identity (Raji, et al., 2013). The increasing awareness that natural resources possess potentials to bring wealth and political stability creates more attention to the effective management of such resources, especially in developing nations, such as sub-Sahara African countries (SSA), in which natural resources, such as oil, gas and minerals, constitute the largest portion of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).         

Critical and fundamental issue here is effective management of natural resources, herein referred to as natural resource governance. Governance issues include transparency, equity and the impact (Ross (2004); Ross (2007); AfDB, 2007). Although control over natural resources, in terms of extraction and ownership has been embedded in the African socio-cultural heritage from the time immemorial, the subsequent arrival of statutory system paved way to corruption, inequality and militancy. As a result, despite the abundant resources, there are waves of poverty and insurgency. On several occasions, majority of these countries that are wallowing in poverty and battened with conflicts and internal violence are those countries that have natural resources, which are poorly managed. In addition, over-reliance on natural resources could ultimately be a curse if such resources are not properly governed (Watts & Kashi, 2008).

Prior studies have examined natural resource governance in several developing countries in Africa, including Nigeria (Maass, 2009), Angola and Nigeria (Ovadia (2014), and Algeria (Kurečić, et al (2015). However, to the best of our knowledge, no study carried out to date, has provided such evidence for SSA oil producing countries. Moreover, in the body of literature there has never been no study which applied a mixed methods of qualitative and quantitative approach to oil resource governance. The proposed study aims to fill these knowledge gaps by examining oil resource governance in three African countries - Angola (Southern Africa), Libya (North Africa) and Nigeria (West Africa), as test beds for future research. 

The choice for aforementioned countries stems from their fairly rich history of pre-post oil discovery. These countries have been in the front line of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for more than three decades, yet they have similar developmental challenges, and poverty level is high. For instance, Nigeria is the thirteenth oil producing country in the World and number one on Africa continent yet the country is among the six countries which have the half (50%) of the World poorest population (World Bank, 2018). Poverty rate in Nigeria is unprecedented with 66% which is alluded to the fact that most people in Nigeria live below two dollars ($2) per day (IMF, 2011; World Bank, 2012).

2. Study goal

The study aims to examine the existing governance framework of oil resources in three African countries - Angola, Libya, and Nigeria with a view to providing strategies for improved resource governance in a sustainable scale. Hence, the following research questions are ought to be answered:

•          Are there cross differences in oil resource governance across these countries?

•          Are the mechanisms for oil resource governance in these countries effective?

•          What constraints impede on effective oil resource governance in these countries?

•          What policy change and response are needed for an inclusive oil resource governance frame in these countries?

3.  Verifiable research hypotheses

The two theories that are pertinent to this study are ‘The Resource Curse’ and “Collectivism” which are embedded in institutional arrangements. On one hand, the resource curse theory was first introduced by Richard Auty in his book “Sustaining Growth in Mineral Economies” (1993). This theory refers to the phenomenon of incessant worse economic performance in natural resource-abundant countries in comparison to resource-poor countries (Auty, 1993, p1).

Following this theoretical construct, the following alternative research hypotheses will be posited for empirical verification:

H0: The mode of national oil resource governance is not associated with the pace of national economic deferment and civil society and even becomes a curse impeding national economic development in the long run.

H1: The inclusiveness and fairness of oil resource management promotes economic development in oil producing countries, leads to higher civil conflict-free atmosphere and contributes to an increase in oil producing.

This study will attempt to verify these hypotheses by applying the resource curse theory in the context of oil resource governance mechanisms employed in Angola, Libya, and Nigeria. Civil society in these countries is characterised by a combination of formality and informality, and is pluralistic and multi-ethnic with regular and irregular features in terms of its market and non-market characteristics. In the recent time, there has been changes from one institutional context to another in looking for formal solution. Situations on ground have indicated that market and/ or orthodox theoretical concepts such as Neo-classical, structural and Marxists are unable to address the problem. Thus demands that the concept of collectivism should be considered. Not only that, the application of bottom-up approach. Ostrom (2005), Williamson (1998) and North (1990) opine that all institutions are germane and fundamental to an effective decision-making on a matter relating to public resources. Informality here relates to the issues of culture, tradition and unwritten institutions. Thus leads to the concepts of new institutional economic (NIE) school of thought. In the light of this, this study will be situated within these two theoretical contexts (resource curse theory and institutional perspective) and demonstrate their usage empirically.

4. Research methods and data sources

This study will adopt both qualitative and quantitative approaches, similar to those used by:- Ahmed et al. (2013), Mollinga and Gondhalekar (2012), Lorance et al. (2011), and Loucks et al (2005). Data for this study will be mainly primary and secondary in nature. These data will be sourced from three countries-Angola (Portuguese language), Libya (Arabic language), and Nigeria (English language) and various sources ranging from national to local scales. On one hand, the qualitative data will be analysed using Atlas.ti or Nvivo, a computer-based software for qualitative data analysis. On the other hand, the quantitative data gathered through questionnaire administered will be analysed using descriptive statistics (frequency and simple percentage), Likert Scaling, Principal Component Analysis (PCA), ANOVA and chi-square Test to make a comparative analysis of the case studies (Angola, Libya, and Nigeria).

5. Study significance

Popular discontent in resource-rich countries often emanate from the alleged governance system. Therefore, there is a need for good governance of natural resources especially for the existing ones (oil, gas and mineral resources) that generate much of the national income (revenue) from the global market through export. Good governance is imperative for economic reform and growth. Extant studies indicate as well that there is a “governance deficit” and the deficit is concentrated in the countries with numerous resources but impaired by neglect of socio-cultural issues, poor management and lack of transparency (corruption) (Abejide, et al. 2013). This may lead to a thick wave of poverty despite the natural resources endowment and to a popular discontent. It is a general saying that a hungry man, is an angry man. For instance, the current phenomenon in Nigeria (West Africa) and parts of Sudan (Central Africa) include kidnapping and community conflicts are deeply rooted in natural resources management and rights. These ugly circumstances have really wrecked the government system and communities peaceful co-existence.

Researcher supervising: 
External supervisors: 
Dr. David Ehrhardt (FGGA, Leiden University)
Project status: 
Countries, location: