The following article from CNN explores the challenges facing African governments today:

Newly-found resource wealth can lead to corruption and cronyism. Nigeria is a prime example, where the country’s own corruption agency estimates between $300 billion to $400 billion of oil money has been stolen or wasted over the last 50 years.

But there are exceptions in Africa that show resources needn’t be a curse. Botswana, with its diamond wealth, and mineral-rich Ghana have both managed to benefit from their natural resources.

The Natural Resource Charter can be a tool for governments and their citizens.

Paul Collier is a professor of economics and director of the center for the study of African economies at Oxford University, and an advisor to the IMF and World Bank.

He told CNN Botswana had benefited from having good leadership, a functioning democracy, and a competent civil service from the time its diamond-wealth was discovered in the 1960s.

He added that if a country is to avoid the “resource curse” it must build an informed civil society that is aware of the kind of issues involved.

“There’s no substitute for building a critical mass of informed citizens,” he said.

“It doesn’t have to be everybody — sometimes just 10,000 people, but it doesn’t mean just get a good finance minister — it has to be a bigger group than one or two technocrats.

“It means building an informed elite of ministers, civil servants, business people and civil society organizations.”

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/08/23/africa.resource.curse/ind…