Democratic Republic Of Congo: Development Policy Issues

1593 words - 6 pages

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) may be one of the richest countries in resources, but the country itself is incredibly poor. On 8 October 2013, the BBC News released an article saying exactly that. Written by Dan Snow, this article accounts for Snow’s experiences on his journey through the DRC while also attempting to provide an analysis that explains how the current situation in Congo is linked to its history. In this article, titled “DR Congo: Cursed by its natural wealth”, Snow claims that the DRC has a long history with colonialism and that poor decolonization is one of the reasons for the current conflict residing in the Congo.
Snow claims that the DRC has a long and complicated history with colonialism. The first form of governance in this territory was known as the Kingdom of Kongo (Snow). This kingdom was very well governed and had a mature political infrastructure. The Portuguese began exploring Africa in the 15th century and encountered the Kingdom of Kongo in 1480 (Snow). Snow states that not long after, the Portuguese realized the richness of the land, thus marking the beginning of colonialism in Kongo. But in addition to natural wealth of the territory, the Portuguese used the natives as a form of wealth—slavery. Snow writes, “The Congo was home to a seemingly inexhaustible supply of strong, disease-resistant slaves” (Snow). The article then describes how the Portuguese rule disintegrated in the 1600s and what was left was an anarchic state, which was soon recolonized by the British. According to Snow, the English were interested in embarking natives to the Americas to work on the new lands. The British were succeeded by the Belgians, who then took over the territory. Snow writes about the brutality of the Belgians. He states, “the men [natives] were forced to go into the jungle and harvest rubber. Disobedience or resistance was met by immediate punishment...death.” (Snow).
According to the article, the Belgians finally annexed the territory, but did so abruptly. As a result, Snow claims that the decolonization is one of the reasons for the current state of turmoil. Snow writes, “in a move supposed to end brutality, Belgium eventually annexed the Congo outright, but the problems in its former colony remained.” (Snow).

The major development policy issue reflected in this media article is the notion of a resource curse. The resource curse is a concept constructed by Paul Collier on the political economy of natural resources and its effects on a countries’ development. In short, Collier asserts that countries with an abundance of natural resources, especially those that are rare, do not develop at the same rate as countries that are not rich in natural resources. These “blessed” countries often tend to be more susceptible to civil and international wars, insurmountable debt, and high levels of corruption.
Based on the information provided by Snow, Collier’s concept of the resource curse...

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