Natural Resource Management: Looting, Waste, Clientelism, and Incompetence

These are the translations of texts originally published in 2018 and 2019. They belong to several "folders" we were unable to translate at the time of their publishing in Arabic. Today, we translate and publish them because they remain equally important and relevant. We begin with the texts of the folder “Resource Management: Looting, Waste, Clientelism, and Incompetence.”


How are the natural resources of the countries in our study managed? In addition to gas and oil, Egypt extracts gypsum, marble, cement, and other resources. Morocco has phosphate, marine fishery, and other resources. In addition to the tremendous tourist flow, there are the mining basins in Tunisia. In Algeria, oil and gas are in the way of many other resources that the country abounds in. While the Sudanese are starving, their abundant resources are being plundered. The random hunting for gold in Mauritania has turned into a profession for thousands of unemployed people, although official statistics raise many questions about its fate. The same goes for the marine fishery resources.

These are just several examples that illustrate how the methods adopted to manage natural resources reveal the dominant economic and social choices and criteria. They also reveal the structures of existing authorities: how they run their countries, the methods used to ensure their survival, the reasons for their hostility to the peaceful transition of power, and their desperate bids to stay in power.

Our texts begin by providing a survey of the resources that actually exist, their volumes, and their revenues in response to the often-repeated notion of “lack of resources” to justify looting, corruption, and incompetence.

Then the texts address the visions that govern the policies of resource management, the approaches, the paths of the achieved profits, their fates, and their functions within the general structure of the various countries’ political economy, as well as the identity of the beneficiaries and their relationships with the ruling authorities.

It was important to conclude this folder with a third theme regarding the possible alternatives to this kind of management. We intend to discuss this in a future folder because it is a self-contained topic, even if it is based on the data discussed here.

This issue is urgent and necessary to anticipate any desired change. However, it calls for political imagination and scientific knowledge, not just wishful thinking. It requires identifying the possibilities and devising the plans, in order to shift the topic treatment from a presentation of the condemned reality to a proposal of realistic alternatives rather than slogans, so that they become tangible goals that people can believe in and defend.

In this folder, we particularly draw attention to the importance of this workshop, while pointing out that criticism - no matter how correct and accurate - is not sufficient on its own. 

Translated by Sabry Zaki

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