For Some Nations, Rich Natural Resources Are a Curse

It seems Afghanistan may go the way of Angola and the Congo, which have both suffered greatly as a result of material wealth coupled with unaccountable political institutions. 

What's the Latest Development?

The rich natural resources which could pull a generation of Afghan citizens out of poverty are being sold by government officials for personal gain and without regard for the future of the country. Afghanistan, which is particularly rich in iron and copper, is thought to have an estimated $3 trillion dollars worth of natural resources beneath its surface. But the resource curse can already be observed in Khost Province "where chromite is illegally excavated in small artisanal mines and smuggled across the porous Pakistani border—costing Kabul $7.3 million a year in lost revenues, enriching organized crime, and arming insurgent groups."

What's the Big Idea?

Countries similar to Afghanistan, which offer booming resources while lacking accountable governmental institutions, have met unthinkable fates. While the people of Angola live on $1.25 per day, the country is the world's 7th largest oil producer. Between 2007 and 2010, the World Bank reports that some $32 billion of public funds disappeared. In the Congo, mineral wealth like Afghanistan's drove the worst war since WWII. Spanning from 1998 to 2003, the conflict engulfed eight African nations, 25 armed groups and resulted in 5.4 million deaths. With an impending NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, it may be time to prepare for the worst.

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