The Resource Miracle

The rock star and activist explains why Africa could be this century's success story

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Lionel Healing / AFP / Getty Images

Gold miners brave a cliff in mineral-rich Congo

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That's why in 2010 the U.S. Congress passed groundbreaking legislation that requires every extractive company listed on a U.S. stock exchange to publish any payments they make to overseas governments, project by project. That information lets Africans hold their leaders to account for the way revenue is spent. Even oil companies will benefit: they're less likely to be criticized by those whose resources they are harvesting. But while the Securities and Exchange Commission crafts rules based on this legislation (amid lobbying by those who think it doesn't work for them), the European Union, considering its own new law, contemplates something worse. World leaders can break the logjam by backing tough rules on the transparency of payments.

In hard times, we hear a lot about "resource management." Resource mismanagement--whether food insecurity or corruption in oil and mineral development--is something the G-8 can reverse, and it can do it not by spending new money but by acting in partnership with the developing world.

If I've learned anything in more than 25 years of making noise about this stuff, it's that partnership trumps paternalism. This summer let's hope the G-8 and G-20 listen more intently to the people we hope to serve and bring the boom without the bust.

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