Africa’s soil is studded with buried treasure. Half the world’s diamonds are mined there. The largest producers of cobalt, manganese and uranium are all African countries. Since 2000 more big petroleum discoveries have been made in sub-Saharan Africa than in any other region. Yet Africans are not wrong when they talk of a “resource curse”.
The continent’s political elite have squandered or stolen much of the bounty, often aided by unscrupulous private firms. The World Bank predicts that by 2030, 62% of the world’s very poor people will live in resource-rich sub-Saharan countries, up from 12% in 2000. Resource-rich states are more likely to suffer dictatorship or civil war.