Revenues from oil should spur economic growth and social development in developing countries. In many resource-rich countries in Africa, however, the lack of accountability and transparency in the management of these revenues exacerbates poor governance and often fuels cycles of corruption, conflict, and poverty. As the international community seeks alternatives to Middle Eastern oil and new reserves enter production, Africa’s oil revenues will multiply over the coming decade. A number of analysts believe that economies overly dependent on oil wealth encourage authoritarian rather than democratic forms of governance.
To meet this challenge, civic groups, government reformers and representatives of the international community are increasingly pushing for more accountability and fiscal transparency in a number of sub-Saharan African countries. These reformist groups need specialized tools and knowledge to guard against increased corruption in resource-rich democratic states and to fight authoritarian regimes seeking to further consolidate their power. Effective transparency initiatives must foster cooperation beyond governments and multinational corporations to include the participation of legislative bodies, political parties, civic organizations and the media.