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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

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How Can Countries Escape the Natural Resource Curse? Answer: Democracy

How can countries escape the natural resource curse? And to what extent do cohesive and democratic institutions facilitate this process? In a new CGD working paper, we look at Nigeria—often seen as the prime example of a country cursed by its wealth. We show that when political institutions are cohesive and power is shared among the diverse groups in a multi-ethnic society, political contests over resource revenues are less likely to be violent. What produces cohesive institutions? Democratic elections.

Stop Spreading the Myth: Zambia Is Not Losing $3 Billion to Tax Avoidance

If transparency in debates around matters of natural resource wealth, then so too does the way that figures get translated into public debates.  Earlier this month the Lusaka Times published a claim that multinational mining companies were “robbing Zambia of an estimated $3billion annually through tax evasion and illicit financial flows.” I have written about the Zambia Copper Billions before. I don’t think the figure is at all credible, and I am not the only one. Organisations that have allowed this myth to spread have not done any favours to the people of Zambia, and they have a responsibility to put it right. 

Inflated Expectations about Mineral Export Misinvoicing are Having Real Consequences in Tanzania

In May, President Magufuli of Tanzania appointed two special committees to investigate the contents of 277 containers stuck at Dar-es-Salaam. The committees' belief that they have uncovered a case of massive misinvoicing (i.e., misrepresentation of the value or quantity of exports) does not seem plausible for five reasons. For starters, the scale of mineral smuggling required for it to be true is implausible.

The Political Paradox of Cash Transfers

Rigorous evaluations show giving poor people cash is a very effective policy. But polls show poor Tanzanians would rather have government services.

This is part II in our blog series about poll results from Tanzania on managing the country’s newfound natural gas wealth. Read part I on fuel subsidies and stay tuned for part III on transparency.

You’ve Heard of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9. Here’s Nigeria’s 20-20-20 (And This One Might Fly)

Lately I’ve been thinking Nigeria should be a little bit more like, of all places, Iran. Yes, Iran. And maybe Alaska.  Here’s how.

Africa’s most populous nation has been a massive underperformer since independence. It’s earned hundreds of billions of dollars from petroleum exports, but the average Nigerian has little to show for it. At least three decades were lost; average incomes in the mid-2000s were the same as in the mid-1970s. More recently, the economic data has been brighter. And there is always hope that the country has finally turned a corner.

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