The following exposition on the World Bank and the projects they fund in some African Countries is like me and my friend who ask to borrow my pistol…
A friend of mine once borrowed my gun. But I heard him soliloquising the day before that he was tired of living and was going to kill himself. I still gave him the gun. I attended his burial and I laid a wreath on his grave!
I think next time when another friend of mine comes to borrow my pistol with the intention of shooting himself I might as well shut myself inside (escapism) or try to talk him through his problems. Perhaps recommend a shrink who I know can help him. Anything but give him a loaded gun to shoot himself soon as he gets home. If I did, I would be an accomplice to his death, and that means I have got more blood on my hands.
…and my friends who want to communicate suicide are the corrupt governments in Africa! They only difference between the World Bank and the projects they fund vis- a- vis my suicide- committing friend is that that the projects are real weapons that kill people while my suicide- committing friends are unreal.
In this paper, I have argued that the World Bank for “oily” reasons best known to them have funded projects in Africa not because they sought to assist in developing the continent but so they can benefit and take African oil home. I have used evidence from the World Bank itself to fault their selfish activities. This paper notes that the problems ensuing from the foregoing are further compounded by corrupt African leaders. It is my contention that to a large extent the World Bank is most guilty since they provide the “pistol” used by African leaders to impoverish the poor masses. I conclude by stating that proper development should focus on the people, and that the World Bank should live up to what it stands for.
Keywords; World Bank Report 2000/2001, Attacking Poverty, Developing Countries, Empowerment, Opportunity, Security, World Bank, Poverty
In more recent times the situation of the poor around the globe has become an international issue. The right of the poor to good standards of living as noted in the UN declaration on human rights has contributed to increase global concerns on the situation of the poor. Developed countries have become more involved in addressing poverty in developing countries. International organisations, NGOs, governments (and indeed the entire international community) have in one way or the other presented themselves as ‘duty bearers’, set and ready to assist tackle poverty in poor countries. Poverty indexes; The UN Millennium Development goals, Grants and loans from Financial institutions all attest to the concern and emphasis of the international community towards ensuring a better quality of life for all of the human race. In this regard, the World Bank (and IMF) stands out as a premier international financing institutions committed to attacking poverty and fighting the cause of the poor in this regard.
On another hand policies and measures targeted towards poverty alleviation in third world (developing countries) have for various reasons not been successful. The situation is worst for oil producing countries of Sub Saharan African countries. Such failure on the part of these countries to develop despite access to high income generation from oil export and sales has been explained by the ‘Natural Resource Curse’. The Natural resource Curse explains the heavy negative political, social and economic impacts of heavy dependence on oil production. (Sampat 2003). This means that tackling poverty in such areas presupposes a holistic and comprehensive understanding of the dynamics that play out in the Poverty problem. These new conception and understanding of Poverty have redefined the Development Project and are well articulated in the World Bank 2000/2001 report; Attacking Poverty.
The World Bank Report 2000/2001 has been acclaimed as an improvement of the 1990 report in that it adopts the sort of holistic perspective outlined in the foregoing (Maxwell, 2000). Focusing on Opportunity, Empowerment and Security, this report adopts a multi-dimensional definition of poverty (Maxwell, 2000). However, despite the strengths and comprehensiveness of the WDR 2000 report, opinions are not at consensus as to the extent to which the World Bank has lived up to its role as ‘duty bearer’ to the cause of ‘Attacking Poverty’.
The following report follows from the foregoing contention that there is a seeming inconsistency with Wold Bank funding for extractive industries in the Sub-Sahara region and it’s stance on attacking poverty (as expounded in the WDR 2000). Thus, the main objective of this report is to make an evaluation of the WDR with respect to World Bank and African governments’ activities in oil projects in Sub Sahara African regions. The Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project is used as point of departure for this report. Drawing on the results of the report analysis, the WDR is assessed on merits of its arguments and underlying assumptions, while noting the extent to which the World Bank as an Institution practices what it preaches and African governments’ level of commitment to the cause of their fellow “Voiceless” Africans.
African Oil Countries and “The Natural Resource Curse”
At a first glance, natural resource appears a blessing to any country that possess it in that it has great potentials to lead to national income. From the perspective of neo classical economics,
such income growth would lead to poverty reduction by having a trickling down effect. However, this has not been the case for countries with heavy dependence on natural resources as source of income. Contrary to neo classical perspective, heavy dependence on natural resource such as oil is often detrimental to national development. Sub Saharan African countries dependent on oil very well supports the forgoing assertion (Pegg, 2003).
Economically, oil dependent countries have been seen to grow slower than their counterparts (Ross, 2001b).A typical example that supports this assertion is Nigeria which has been noted as the worst country in terms of using the huge income realized from oil sales to improve standard of living for its citizens (Pegg, 2003). From the social point of view, these countries lag behind in the provision of critical social welfare indicators such as overall living standards, poverty rates, child mortality and life expectancy, as well as educational attainments (Ross, 2001a, Coellier and Hoeffler, 2000). The political situation of such countries is marked by a high level of corruption, high degree of authoritarianism and government ineffectiveness (source 37). This collection of negatives that necessarily relate to and affect resource dependent countries have been termed the “Natural Resource Curse”
The natural resource curse has led to increased poverty rates in all oil producing African countries. It goes a long way to disprove the neo classical thinking that poverty can always be reduced by income growth and market accessibility. The failure of oil producing countries in Africa to develop notwithstanding high income generation from oil sales show that there is more to poverty alleviation and development than income generation. The implication would be that any workable strategy targeted at poverty reduction would have to take into these other important factors (the socio-political dynamics related to economics on a national level). The World Bank Report 2000; Attacking Poverty has been noted to possess such comprehensive approach towards poverty alleviation.