Resource-rich nations often find themselves ensnared in a phenomenon known as the resource curse, a well-documented trend that tends to plague poorer nations around the world.
Sudan, the latest victim of this curse, joins the ranks of other famous cases like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique, where the abundance of natural resources has paradoxically hindered economic development and contributed to deep-rooted problems.
In 2010, the discovery of approximately 180 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, equivalent to about 29 billion barrels of oil, placed Mozambique on the global energy map. This vast wealth of resources positioned the African nation as a potential LNG superpower, attracting the attention of Texas-based Anadarko Corp. (now part of Occidental Petroleum Corp.) and Italian energy giant Eni S.p.A. However, the subsequent events revealed the dark side of the resource curse.
Soon after the discovery, terrorism and corruption scandal, known as the “hidden loans” debacle, began to cast a shadow over Mozambique’s economy. Senior officials in the government had formed state-owned companies that borrowed billions of dollars off-the-books, ultimately leading to an erosion of investor confidence and economic stability. The repercussions of these actions threatened to shatter the dreams of Mozambique becoming a global energy player.
Fortunately, Mozambique has demonstrated resilience and managed to overcome the challenges it faced. In a remarkable turnaround, the nation embarked on its first-ever liquefied natural gas (LNG) export to Europe last year. This achievement signifies a new chapter for Mozambique, one where the resource curse is being gradually alleviated, and the potential for economic growth is being realised.
Sudan, unfortunately, presents a different narrative. Like its counterparts afflicted by the resource curse, Sudan possesses abundant natural resources, including oil reserves. However, despite this wealth, the country has faced numerous challenges that have impeded its development and perpetuated poverty.
The resource curse in Sudan is marked by a combination of factors, including mismanagement, corruption, and political instability. These issues have hindered the country’s ability to effectively harness its resources and invest in its people. While Sudan’s oil sector once held promise for economic growth, mismanagement and corruption have undermined its potential, resulting in a cycle of underdevelopment and dependency on external aid.
Moreover, political instability and conflict have plagued Sudan for decades. Civil wars, internal conflicts, and the fragmentation of the nation have perpetuated poverty and hindered progress. The resource curse has exacerbated these challenges, as competing groups vie for control over the country’s valuable resources, further fueling tensions and violence.