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The neglected role of local institutions in the ‘resource curse’ debate. Limestone mining in the Krobo region of Ghana

Eric Tamatey Lawer, Martin C. Lukas and Stig H. Jørgensen

Resources Policy, 2017, vol. 54, issue C, 43-52

Abstract: The intense scholarly debate on the resource curse and political initiatives aimed at preventing it have largely focused on macro-economic aspects and national-level institutions and policies. Sub-national structures have received clearly less attention. We argue that institutions, power relations, and politics at the local and regional level play a major role in the resource curse and deserve more scholarly attention. We illustrate this argument with a case study of limestone mining in the Krobo region of Eastern Ghana. Rising natural resource revenues and their limited effects on peoples’ welfare render the resource curse debate particularly urgent in Ghana. Our qualitative in-depth case study, which combined interviews, focus groups and observations, aimed at analysing how traditional chieftaincy and district assemblies mediate peoples’ access to mining revenues. We found clear contradictions between national policies that aim at improving resource revenue transparency and welfare in mining-affected communities and realities on the ground. Culturally rooted chieftaincy power, chieftaincy conflicts, rulers’ self-interest, and unaccountable local institutions undermine peoples’ livelihoods, constrain their access to mining revenues and thereby impede poverty reduction and socio-economic development. The case highlights the central role that local institutions can play in the resource curse.

Keywords: Resource curse; Mining royalties; Chieftaincy; Rationality; Livelihoods; Resource access (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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