The perverse and inverse relationship between wealth in natural resources and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa is being analyzed in this paper. It analyzes the linkages between these two factors and the attributes of the dominant economic sectors of resource-rich countries in the region, as well as the current and potential role of the state in development. This leads to an examination of the capacity of the state in sub-Saharan Africa to foster indigenous development based on its dominant sectors, and the possibility of ‘developmental states’ emerging in the region. Contrary to the thesis that raid globalization is eroding state capacity, and rendering the nation-state irrelevant, trends in other developing regions of the world (Latin America and East Asia) show that the state remains relevant in shaping economic choices and building better or worse development paths in the context of local and global networks. Drawing on two prominent cases in sub-Saharan Africa -- oil exploration in Nigeria, and copper mining in Zambia – this discourse reflects the need to reclaim space for policy formulation; it points to the urgent need to rethink development in those sectors in the face of multinational corporations that dominate the major sectors of these economies and entrench a process of global extraction. Emphasis is placed on the character and attributes of the dominant sectors through which these states are linked to the global economy, and how these sectors shape the ability of the state to foster indigenous development.