What do Iran and Alaska have in common? Well for one thing, both have followed a similar path towards equity by sharing mineral revenues with citizens through the Alaska Permanent Fund and the Iran Citizens Income Scheme. Why aren’t other countries, rich in mineral and hydro carbon wealth on their way to doing the same? This journey can be short and sweet: It would entail direct dividend payments from mineral wealth to citizens to become a reality across Africa and other parts of the world. It’s time to put the mine in mineral revenues.
Marcelo Giugale, World Bank’s Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa, makes the case with enthusiasm for direct cash payments from natural resource revenues to the citizens of a country: a mechanism by which citizens of a nation, share in its wealth earnings while making sure that the earnings keep growing for future generations. Marcelo offers a tantalizing prospect: even a fraction of mineral and hydro carbon revenue as direct dividend payments to citizens would be enough to end poverty! Imagine that.
Africa has mineral revenues and much more that can end poverty. It seems, that whatever the so-called developed world craves, Africa already has: from mineral resources to yet to be discovered deposits of diamonds, oils, rare earth; to agriculture land. Yet, whatever enriches the so-called developed world from Africa seems to not benefit the continent itself. Why is that? And what will need to be done to change it? It is time to transform the discussion on economic growth drivers and development aid by adding into the equation the distribution of mineral revenues urges Shantayanan Devarajan, World Bank’s Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa and until recently for the Africa Region.