One of the most influential times in my life was my experience in Ghana. My time there taught be very much that usually the less people had in terms of possessions and money, the more they gave in other ways, such as kindness and friendship. With more than 40% of the Ghanaian population living on less than $1 dollar a day, there’s a lot of giving in other ways.

But there was a recent find for Ghana. On the western coast of Ghana, oil was found. Some are predicting that Ghana can be a new powerhouse in the African economic sphere; however, despite Ghana being one of the “success stories” in Sub-Saharan Africa, commentators are concerned that Ghana may regress because of this find. The question is this: Will Ghanaians benefit from new wealth or will they fall into the resource curse that many other of its African colleagues have fallen under (e.g. Nigerian oil, Ivorian cocoa, Congolese diamonds)?

According to Stanford democracy theorist and political scientist Terry Lynn Karl, the “paradox of plenty” not only does not benefit the country but it sets it further back than before the resource was found because the surge in wealth eventually highlights the institutional weaknesses of the political system of the country. I guess countries finding new wealth is the macro-level event of a person winning the lottery. There is some statistic that says that lottery winners do, in fact, end up in poverty and bankrupt, like in this article I pulled up randomly on Google. So maybe Karl is right?

So what will Ghana have to do to avoid the trap? Is the finding of oil a blessing or a curse? What can the international community do to help states with sudden boosts of money?

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