Tag Archives: gold

Ugandan Alchemy or The Resource Curse?

Here is a nice illustration of the resource curse from relatively recent history- taken from the UN

The pink line shows Uganda’s gold production

The blue line shows Uganda’s gold exports

Uganda – A Nation of Alchemists?


Note the way in which gold exports, but not gold production, suddenly increases immediately following the entry of  Ugandan troops into the Congo War in 1994.

Some observers might suggest this offers support for the view that Uganda’s military involvement in that war was merely a cynical attempt to extract a few tonnes of gold – 40 tonnes over the period shown.

Of course it wasn’t only Uganda – Rwanda, Burundi, Namibia, Angola and Zimbabwe were all extracting DRCs resources during this period too!

Find Out More –

The Curse of Gold – The Democratic Republic of Congo

Sociology on TV – Blood Sweat and Luxuries – Gold!

7 Brits in their 20s head off to Ghana  and get exhausted working alongside gold miners who earn £3-4/ day; upset when they stay with a gold miner and the 17 dependents in his family lamenting his lack of education;  and finally head off to a toxic waste dump to find children smashing apart old computers from the UK so they can sell the scrap for a pound a day – one kid had developed breathing difficulties because of exposure to toxic fumes and another’s mother is so poor – they live on a veranda.

Blood Sweat and Luxuries Promo
Uploaded by hamster1992. – Watch feature films and entire TV shows.

This video is a great introduction to ‘Global Development’ – it illustrates the many problems some individuals in developing nations face – such as

  • Lack of educational opportunities
  • Low wages
  • The cycle of poverty as uneducated children go to work in the mines
  • Large families = no savings
  • Western companies who buy gold – pay lowest price they can to make more profit •Consumers – unaware or willing – lack of
  • How the price of Gold… depends on world markets/ global economy
  • How being at the Bottom of the global pecking order – dumping ground….
  • Lack of environmental regulation…. Health problems
  • Child labour

The programme paints a bleak picture of the developing world, which gets even bleaker when you realise that Ghana actually ranks 93rd out of about 200 countries for GDP (PPP) and around 130/ 200 on the Human Development Index…

What’s so bleak is that Ghana appears to be ‘developing’ – successfully by African standards – and yet there are still massive problems.

Most worryingly, after doing some digging – I noticed this – which is a great illustration of how dependent Ghana’s economic development is on the price of gold and cocoa – the prices of both have spiked in recent years – but it looks like they’re going down again!

So what’s interesting about the video is that illustrates how the prospects for development of any African country depends on its relations with the western world.

This is more advanced stuff….

 The most interesting question someone asked today was ‘what happens when the gold runs out’ – simply put, if the money from their raw material exports isn’t invested in more advanced industry and services – and the country oriented to exporting – economic development will go backwards.

Paul Collier (we’ll come onto him later) argues there is a 20 year window of opportunity for African countries with natural resources to use them to get their development going – whether or not they are able to do so depends on a wider range of factors – how the West, and China invovle themselves with Africa’s ‘extractive industries’ and also how pro-active the African governments and entrepeneurs are in brining about social development rather than lining their own pockets.