On the mechanics of the political resource curse: information and local elite behavior in Mozambique
Contributors: Pedro Vicente (NOVAFRICA/Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
Financing: 3ie Transparency and Accountability Initiative (TW8) awarded to NOVAFRICA Mozambique

Mozambique discovered substantial natural resources  in  recent  years. Known gas reserves in the Rovuma basin have the potential to transform Mozambique into a global player in Liquefied Natural Gas exports. Being  a recent democracy, and with relatively weak institutions, Mozambique also faces considerable risks of resource and revenue mismanagement in the  future, particularly since media independence and penetration are low and the level of political accountability is not improving. 

The  intervention we propose to evaluate is the distribution of information about the management of the newly discovered natural gas in the Rovuma basin, and the holding of citizen meetings to deliberate on the main priorities for spending the revenues from these resources. These activities will be sponsored and implemented by a consortium of NGOs led by free‐distribution newspaper @Verdade. These implementing agencies strongly believe that the resource curse can be counteracted through the widespread provision of information about the management of natural resources in the country. Behind this belief is the hypothesis that  information  will make politicians accountable through the electoral system. Still, our knowledge about what works in preventing the natural resource curse in democracies is limited. 

There is no causal evidence about the effects of the provision of information in these contexts. In fact there are fundamental doubts about the theoretical mechanisms that link natural resources to decreased income: limited political accountability is not the only possible explanation, as there could be a generalized increase in rent‐seeking activities in the economy.

This impact evaluation will seek to advance on both dimensions, establishing causality and identifying the mechanisms of change.

NOVAFRICA

Universidade Nova de Lisboa

This project is led by Alex Armand.