THE NATURAL RESOURCE CURSE AND COLONIAL LEGACY IN FRENCH WEST AFRICA, Saran Touré, UG '22 (3960184)
This paper re-examines the mechanisms behind the development of the natural resource curse in French West Africa. The natural resource curse in the region is usually attributed to weak contemporary institutions, and the inefficient distribution of resource rents. However, this understanding of the resource curse is very ahistorical and does not account for the impacts that French colonial influence has had on the development and the continuation of extractive policies surrounding natural resource governance. The resource curse that is observed in French West Africa today is ,in part, a result of a colonial legacy. To evaluate this legacy, I use archival sources to measure resource dependence in each colony from 1901 to 2001 and find that on average there was a significant increase in resource dependence across the selected French West African countries. Additionally, I also find that resource dependence during colonialism led to lower literacy rates, and lower primary school attendance rates in 1995. To further explore the mechanisms involved with these effects, I do a historical analysis of two case studies, Guinea and Senegal, and find that resource abundance in Guinea, coupled with French forced labor practices and extractive institutions plays a key role in the severity of the resource curse in the country today.