Book Review: Natural Resource Investment and Africa’s Development, Edited by Francis N. Botchway.

Natural Resource Investment and Africa’s Development, edited by Francis N. Botchway.  Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011 (544 pages); $255 hardcover edition.

Natural Resource Investment and Africa’s Development, edited by Francis N. Botchway, is a collection of new essays covering various topics related to the mining of natural resources in Africa.  Part of Edward Elgar’s New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series, the book covers “a wide spectrum of topics – from governance, through the need to create a workable constitutional and institutional arrangement for environmental protection and resources use, management, conservation, and responsible investment, to dispute resolution” (xi).  According to the publisher’s website, “each comprehensive and concise contribution highlights the importance of transparency and equity in investment and management of natural resources,” making the book, “essential material for scholars and students of development, environmental law, international economic law and dispute resolution.”  As such, it would be a fitting purchase for academic law libraries, especially those currently offering courses in international environmental law.  It would also be an excellent resource for students working on law journal articles.

This book covers a wide spectrum of important issues that are central to the investment in natural resources and, ultimately, the economic development of Africa. For their own protection, “African countries pushed for international efforts to prevent disorderly exploitation and to preserve the natural resources and territorial integrity or unity of the respective territories” (3).  The collected essays “dissect [these] problems in detail and propose solutions” to many of the issues that are being faced by the resource-rich African nations that are currently undergoing vast changes (8).   Many countries are referenced and discussed, including South Africa, Botswana, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique.

The essays have been divided into three sections.  Part one concentrates on the contribution of governance to the current economic crisis in Africa, including the ongoing ways in which law, transparency, and accountability are being compromised to the detriment of the majority of African nations.  The second section of the book focuses on governmental relations with commercial and corporate investors.  Part three focuses on how the exploitation of African natural resources affects the rest of the world.  Each chapter discusses the current situation and applies applicable local and international laws in order to get to the heart of the issues at hand.  There are numerous case studies and examples from which to glean information regarding the various complicated aspects of mining natural resources, from who should benefit to how African nations can avoid continued exploitation.  An index is included, and the essays offer many sources that can be used for further research.  Overall, this book is an affordable and excellent resource, well worth the investment.

Reviewed by Stacy Fowler, technical services librarian at the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library, St. Mary’s University School of Law.

1 Response to “Book Review: Natural Resource Investment and Africa’s Development, Edited by Francis N. Botchway.”

  1. 1 Toh Ernest Muchu January 9, 2012 at 11:09 am

    The timing of the book is appropriate, at a time when the both hidden and open exploitation of natural resources in Africa are being exposed. A time when African peace and unity is a threat to exploiters of natural resources.
    Great deal the book addresses issues of political manipulations and agendas by the developed nations on the developing to maintain the high standards of life styles put in place at the detriment of African States. What is also very clear of the African resource dilemma is the non-realisation that Africa’s natural resource management can never be properly managed by foreigners. Continuous reliance on the West for economic salvation will worsen the situation of Africa as many strategies are set up everyday to overcome the changing psychology of African leaders.

    I appreciate and recommend the book. It is an eye opener if not a kick starter to Africans who can see beyond ordinary African eyes.

    Toh Ernest Muchu

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September 2011

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