GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Governance of Natural Resources in Africa: Building a Qatari Perspective
Paper Proposal Text :
In Africa, in particular, an abundance of natural resources combined with the dramatic increase in global demand particularly by the emerging powers, such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) since the early 1990s have given rise to unprecedented levels of economic growth and investment. It has also to chaotic and wasteful, environmental hazardous practices often depleting resources on which the future economic livelihoods of societies should be based and undermining the tremendous economic and social progress achieved with respect to the Millennium Development Goals.

Violent conflict has often accompanied these trends. Conflict over the control, distribution and consumption of natural resources is ubiquitous; the nature of that conflict, however, is determined by the social, political and economic contexts in which threatens the political stability and security environments of entire countries. Private sector actors, including ranchers, large-scale landowners, and private corporations in industries such as forestry, mining and resource extraction, hydropower, and agribusiness are becoming increasingly influential in these resource management decisions and are important actors for peace and security in developing regions. Private sector investment can increase conflict by contributing to conflict, creasing socio-economic inequalities, providing funding or arms directly to warlords and militias, disrupting environmental systems and contributing to the “Dutch Disease.” The increasing frequency of dialogue, consultative engagement with local communities and round-table discussions taking place between various stakeholders reflect a growing concern that we are somehow falling short in dealing with critical issues relating to the governance of natural resources and that we need to do better in reconciling economic and business objectives with a more responsible exploitation of resources as a means to advance sustainable and equitable development.

Qatar is emerging as a significant regional & global actor has had to learn to adapt to unexpected changes in the global natural gas market because of new technologies & supplies in the US leading to a quest for new markets in Asia: Australian & African competition in LNG becomes ever more central. While Qatar has made modest investments elsewhere in Eastern Africa – for instance, the leasing of 40,000 ha of land in the Kenyan River Tana Delta for agricultural production – these investments remain a very minor component of Qatar’s foreign holdings. In 2010, only four of Qatar’s top fifty trade partners were located in sub-Saharan Africa.[1] Nevertheless, there is an increasing preoccupation in Qatar to diversify its economic base from a reliance on oil and natural gas exports to its traditional trading partners to other sectors, regions and markets, such as investments, mining and agriculture systems in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Qatar is emerging as a significant regional and global actor, symbolized by its airline, mediation role in conflict zones in the Middle East and North Africa, hosting media-giant Al Jazeera and world events like FIFA 2020 (Cooper and Momani 2012)[2] in a region in flux without a history of strong regional architecture (Legrenzi and Momani 2011)[3]. Qatar learned to adapt to unexpected changes in the global natural gas market in the advent of new technologies and supplies in the US amidst Asian, Australian and African competition as liquefied natural gas became essential to consumers. At the same time, Qatar’s investment overseas has brought Qatar onto the political stage, especially seen in the recent Libyan and Syrian interventions. This implies that Qatar’s interests are more than economic and that Qatar wants to set the stage as a promoter of peace, security and prosperity in the region and beyond. Frederic Wehrey[4] points out that Qatar’s diplomatic intervention in the region has allowed Doha to broker the 2008 ceasefire in Lebanon and to reconcile the two sides in Sudan’s civil war (2012). Doha has also been able to broker peace and prosperity talk with Iran[5]. Qatar’s willingness to embrace Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban as part of its mediation and outreach initiative is applauded by global media. It appears that from Qatar’s multi-order engagement in politics and business both internationally and nationally, Doha has carefully played the wider field with a strategic plan, to learn and grow through its economic investments. Many lessons have been learned in the greater political interventions by Qatar in fragile/failed states in the region and Qatar continues to develop a strategic focus for the future.

This study offers a comprehensive framework on the policy options and governance arrangements through an innovative, inclusive and sustainable approach from a Qatari perspective. We argue that this perspective is required if private sector activities are to effectively support broad based sustainable economic development and contribute to peace, security and political stability.