Listening to Alicia Barcena in Santiago

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Latin America faces same challenge as Africa

Listening to Alicia Barcena, head of the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC) today in Santiago was a revelation. I have not heard anywhere in Africa such a clear articulation of the profoundly anti-developmental consequences of  the expanded role of the mining sector in developing country economies as a result of the commodity boom in recent years. They have calcuated that a $1 m investment in mining only creates 1 job. They are advocating various measures to improve ‘resource governance’, including resource rent taxation, etc. If I came all the way to listen to this, it was worth the trip. We really need to integrate these Latin American perspectives into the African discourse. Click HERE for the speech, although she did not stick totally to the script, elaborating in particular her strong belief that Latin American countries have become exporters of their natural resources in return for resource rents that have only benefitted a rich elite while the goods for everyday living are largely imported. Resource rents are not funding developmental processes, such as investments in human capital.