Extract of Africa: Towards the Equitable and Ecologically Sound Governance of Mining and Drilling

  • Ikechukwu Umejesi
  • Michael Thompson
  • Maria Marcello
  • Emmanuel Vellemu


Background: Economists and political scientists have long recognised four kinds of goods: private, public, common-pool and club, the assumption being that category membership is determined by the physical properties of the goods themselves. But in the theory of plural rationality—the approach taken in this chapter—where specific goods end up is, to the extent that that is not determined by their physical properties, the outcome of a never-ending struggle between four kinds of social solidarity: individualism (which works towards privatisation), hierarchy (which favours the creation of public goods), egalitarianism (which is supported by common-pool goods) and fatalism (whose upholders enable club goods by the ease with which they can be excluded). Methodology: The study uses historical surveys and case-studies of different contexts where natural resource governance has upset harmonious relationship between different stakeholders. Application/Relevance to systems analysis: Our argument is that policy and governance, particularly in Africa, have allowed (indeed encouraged) individualism and hierarchy to dominate, thereby drowning out the other two institutional “voices”. The result, as we show by way of a continent-wide historical survey and three case-studies—REDD+ in the Democratic Republic of Congo, acid mine drainage in South Africa and oil extraction in Nigeria—has been “crap” governance (in contrast to good governance, which requires that all four voices are both heard and responded to by the others). Put another way, the “resource curse” is not the inevitable consequence of a country being heavily reliant on extractive industries; it stems from insufficient “clumsiness”: exemplified, as Kofi Annan has recently pointed out, by just two solidarities—multinational companies (individualism) and political leaders (hierarchy)—colluding to swindle the citizens out of their just rewards from their natural resources. Policy implications: Of policy implication, is the bringing-in of the two currently excluded voices, and we conclude by showing how, in relation to our case-studies, this can be achieved. Conclusion: Analyses of resource-related conflicts, especially in Africa, have often ignored the voices of the excluded social solidarities. Analysing this problem through a systems perspective will allow the incorporation of all voices as a way of constructing a more harmonious system in natural resource governance.


Natural resources environment States Governance Minerals 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ikechukwu Umejesi
    • 1
  • Michael Thompson
    • 2
  • Maria Marcello
    • 3
  • Emmanuel Vellemu
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Fort HareEast London 5200South Africa
  2. 2.Risk and Resilience ProgramInternational Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)LaxenburgAustria
  3. 3.Department of Environmental EngineeringLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  4. 4.Institute for Water ResearchRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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