Book Review: Natural Resource Investment and Africa`s Development


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Keywords: natural resources, Africa, resource management, sustainable development, investment, governance, economic development, environmental law, economic law, international dispute resolution.

The University of Aberdeen, School of Law has many LLM and PhD students grappling with the role of law in the context of natural resource investment in Africa. This book is an excellent addition to the literature in this area. It provides an appropriate and useful context for the issues of natural resource development, discussing a wide range of connected areas around economic development, exploitation and management of natural resources on this continent. The law is discussed as part of a much wider context of investment, regulation and governance. This makes the book unique and widens its appeal beyond the lawyer and legal practitioner.

The text is very well edited by Francis Botchway, who provides a clear historical introduction, which, in addition, poses the question: why is it that African countries that have such massive endowments in the form of natural resources are amongst the poorest in the world? He also notes the terrible physical deterioration to the natural environment of Africa that has occurred, in particular, over the last 50 years, leading him to state 'the key explanatory variable for the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty is governance' (p. 6). The many authors address these issues in a detailed and systematic manner and offer solutions which, Botchway asserts, if implemented would go a long way towards solving the dichotomy of rich natural resources and poverty.

This large book is divided into three parts: Part I deals with governance and political economy. This covers good governance and resource management in general terms. It also deals with dispute settlement and sustainable development of natural resources in Africa. The final chapter in this section is a case study of the Nigerian experience of resources exploitation and environmental justice. Part II deals with commercial and financial relations. It consists of five chapters, including one by the editor on mergers and acquisitions and one by Benjamin J. Richardson about socially responsible investment. Part III is entitled the International Context of African Resource Exploitation, with six excellent chapters covering key areas. The editor provides a fascinating chapter on the relationship between China and Africa, entitled 'Regime theory and China-Africa economic relations: new ideas and old paradigms'. It is thought that readers of this journal will find the two final chapters of most interest, as these spe-cifically relate to environmental law. Chapter 13 covers the role of international criminal law in environ mental protection and Chapter 14, the final chapter, addresses economic development and environmental protection in Africa. This also provides a salutary conclusion to the difficult questions tackled in this book and, although solutions are proposed, they are mindful of the interlinking and global context, which makes a satisfactory resolution very difficult.

Natural Resource Investment and Africa's Development is a significant contribution to recognising the wider issues. It thereby assists with consciousness raising as well as potentially addressing, not only why it is it that African countries who have such massive endowments in the form of natural resources are amongst the poorest counties in the world, but also in redressing that balance. I highly recommend this book, not only for lawyers with an interest in African resources, but also for all those who care about good governance in the regulation of the natural world. I will certainly be recommending it to students, past, present and future.

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