Africans are useless. It is Africa that is useful
Many of the countries with huge amounts of mineral and commodity wealth are often crippled by
the twin terrors of the resource curse: low growth rates and high levels of poverty.
The heart of resource curse is that it makes democracy malfunction. This is evident in most
countries of Africa with mineral resources.
Here’s some examples.
For every woman who dies in childbirth in France, a hundred die in the desert nation of Niger, a
prime source of the uranium that fuels France’s nuclear-powered economy.
The average Finn or South Korean can expect to live to eighty, nurtured by economies among
whose most valuable companies are, respectively, Nokia and Samsung, the world’s top two mobile
phone manufacturers. By contrast, if you happen to be born in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
home to some of the planet’s richest deposits of the minerals that are crucial to the manufacture of
mobile phone batteries, you’ll be lucky to make it past fifty.
How does it work?
When demanding their rights from their British colonial masters, the American revolutionaries
declared that there would be no taxation without representation. The inverse is also true: Without
taxation, there is no representation. By not being funded by the people, the rulers of resource
states are not obliged to them.
Taking Africa as a whole, for every 6$ governments get from directly taxing their citizens, they
bring in 10$ from taxes on the extraction and export of resources. Taxes, customs receipts and
revenues from the sale of state assets are the things on which industrialized nations rely to fund
the state, and that requires the acquiescence of the population. Those things matter far less in
resource states, than keeping the resource money flowing.
Looking at individual countries, Nigeria's GDP recalculation in 2014 showed that, once taxes from
the oil industry were stripped out, the government relied on the people for just 4% of its revenue.
The ability of the rulers of Africa's resource countries to govern without recourse to popular
consent goes to the heart of the resource curse. This business destroys the social contract between
rulers and the ruled.
Of course, the answer to this problem can't be to raise the taxes on the population to parallel or be
greater than those from the resources. There are countries that even with vast amounts of mineral
resources, still manage to implement democracy, like some of the Arab countries and even more
familiar, Libya during Gaddafi's reign when part of the money from sale of state oil would be
distributed to the citizens' individual bank accounts. After all, the land belongs to the people.