n Journal of African Elections - Oil and Ghana's 2012 presidential elections - reinvigorating the 'resource curse'?

Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



The threat posed to burgeoning democratic dispensations by natural resources could not be more glaring than it is in Ghana following the discovery of large quantities of oil in what has been named the Jubilee Field. While it is evident that oil revenues could bring about economic transformation and benefits for the citizens of Ghana, prudent economic management of the resources is required. At the same time, the oil boom may prove to be a challenge to Ghana's democratic development if it brings, as it has elsewhere in Africa, an increase in corruption, authoritarianism and conflict. The Jubilee Field raised the stakes in the 2012 presidential election. In their manifestos the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party, the two leading political parties in Ghana, each made a different proposal about what should be done with the oil revenue. Against this backdrop we posit that the relevance of the 'resource curse' dictum cannot be dismissed. For political parties the stakes remain high. The heightened attention paid to oil adds currency to the conception that resources have a long-standing destabilising effect on African democracies. This article argues that unless visible and apolitical accountable structures are created to manage the oil, multinational lobbyists could fuel post-election political tensions in subsequent elections by funding the pursuit of power of the parties, thus accelerating an end to Ghana's long-celebrated democratic stability.

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