Natural resources can be a curse or blessing

By Opio Jackson

Natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable, and ecosystem services are a part of the real wealth of nations. They are the natural capital out of which other forms of capital are made. They contribute towards fiscal revenue, income, and poverty reduction. Unfortunately, many resource-rich countries have not lived up to the expectations of their citizens while others have prospered without resources.

Experience has shown us that countries like Japan with no natural resources were able to develop to the level where it is now through use of its human resource. After the devastating World War II (WWII), Japan was reduced to nothing, all the infrastructures were destroyed and as a country without natural resources, it was not easy for development to take its course. They had to start from a zero level by investing in education to build the capacity of its human resource and today if you visit Japan you hardly imagine if Japan had really one time suffered the consequence of any war.

According to the study released by The Atlantic, among the many frustrations in development, perhaps none looms larger than the “resource curse.” The worst development outcomes are measured in poverty, inequality, and are often found in those countries with the greatest natural resource endowments. Rather than contributing to basic services, broadly shared growth, and social peace, rich deposits of oil and minerals have often brought misery and insecurity to these nations.

It is true that after the independence, South Sudan has been in conflict within itself for a period of time but not all that its infrastructures across the country were completely destroyed. I believe if the parties to the Revitalized Peace Agreement have the love for the country, they would provide peace dividends to the citizens during the transitional period.

No doubt it will not take the country long to rehabilitate those few infrastructures that were destroyed and focus on real development to achieve the expectations of the citizens. The citizens need better roads, health services, schools, clean drinking water and security, otherwise without making these a reality, for most South Sudanese natural resources will always remain a curse instead of blessing.

South Sudan has a lot of natural resources including renewable and non-renewable, and ecosystem. These are real wealth of the nation that should be used for the development of the country and sometimes resources can easily become a source of insecurity if they are not equally shared for the common good of the citizens.

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