Natural Resources and Conflict: Unlocking the Economic Dimension of Peace-Building in Africa

"The resources that generate many of these problems are largely oil and gas, diamonds, columbium tantalite (coltan), drugs, gold, platinum, uranium and other gemstones; and also timber, coffee, water, land, grazing pasture, livestock and rubber. In some cases, resource conflict is embedded in the social and economic grievance narrative. As a result, many see a ‘resource curse’ in Africa, whereby easily obtainable natural resources and commodities have essentially hurt the prospects of several African national and regional economies by fostering political corruption and feeding violence and rebellion. Three interrelated dimensions of the resource curse are distinguishable: slower economic growth; violent civil conflict; and types of undemocratic regime. This paper therefore reviews the role natural resources play in the occurrence of violent conflict. It also outlines a theoretical framework defining environmental scarcities, the social effects of scarcities and the subsequent aggressive behaviour and insurgency, and suggests policy recommendations to respond to these challenges."