Future Oil Revenues and Political Dynamics in West and East Africa: A Slippery Slope

The paper begins with an overview of the economic geography of projected oil dependence in Africa, concentrated in the Gulf of Guinea and the Rift Valley respectively. Secondly, it briefly reviews the literature that attempts to understand why oil wealth often fails to produce sustainable development. Thirdly, it explores a theoretical framework for selecting country cases, and an associated game theoretic model appropriate for analysing the likely impact of oil wealth on political stability and development in the selected countries. Following case analysis, it concludes by critiquing the cash-to-citizen proposition, recommending incremental reform instead. Policy initiatives must be incentive-compatible with the existing distribution of de facto power and the nature of the elite bargain in host countries if they are to be successful.