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Scholar asks govt to transform oil resource ‘from curse to blessing’

Author: Charles Wote | Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Dr. Melha Ruot Biel, author of Oil curse, environmental devastation and the unpayable loans. (Photo: Charles Wote).

A South Sudanese academician calls on the government to transform the oil resource from being a curse to blessing by investing its revenue into development and livelihood activities.

Professor Dr. Melha Rout Biel has just published a book titled “Oil Curse, Environmental Devastation, and the Unpayable Loans.”

His research focused on 10 leading oil-producing countries on the continent, investors in the industry, and the scramble for the natural resource.

According to his findings, there are over 500 domestic and foreign oil and gas corporations exploring reserves across the continent despite Africa generating over 9 million barrels of crude oil per day.

Central to his book is the historical context regarding China’s and US investment in Africa after the Cold War era as well as the potential for the oil and gas industry on the continent.

The research presented challenges and opportunities for oil producing countries, among others.

Dr. Biel draws attention to some of the problems facing the Africa continent especially poverty affecting millions in African despite its enormous wealth.

Speaking during the book launch on Friday, the scholar emphasized on the use of oil money to fund the agriculture, education, and infrastructure sectors to alleviate the suffering citizens.

“If we can transform the oil resources into the transformation of our society in terms of road, in terms of education, in terms of Agriculture and all this of course this will come in a blessing,” he said.

“But if it is not going to be through this, it becomes a curse and you know; people will fight over the oil because the little money we have now, we are asking the Minister of Finance to pay us six months.”

“He (finance minister doesn’t have the money because the oil money is just very limited. We need to have other source of income so that it become a blessing.”

Professor Melha Rout Biel is an academician and researcher with over 20 years of experience in higher education, government, non-profit organizations, and the legal profession.

He is a member of the National Commission on Higher Education in South Sudan.

Dr. Biel’s book mirrored the Resource Curse Theory – a phenomenon of countries with abundance of natural resources having less economic growth, less democracy, or worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources.

It mainly occurs when a country focuses all of its production means on a resource-dependent sector.

The theory, sometimes refered to as the paradox of plenty – proposes a correlation between resource endowment, particularly oil, and the propensity for armed conflict, corruption, and poor development outcomes.

Dr. Biel previously held the positions of Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Dr. John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology in Bor.

Some of his previous books include The African Kids, Between Warlords, Child Soldiers, and Living on the Streets (2004), Elites and Power in South Sudan (2017), and The Role of Environmental Laws in Implementing Oil and Gas Contracts” (2017).

Dr. Melha earned a PhD and master’s degree in political science from Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany, as well as a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Jena University of Applied Sciences.

He also has a Master of Laws in Oil and Gas and a Bachelor of Laws from Uganda Christian University.








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