The Looting Machine: Warlords, Tycoons, Smugglers, and the Systematic Theft of Africa’s Wealth by Tom Burgis - review by Adam Roberts

Adam Roberts

Going for a Steal

The Looting Machine: Warlords, Tycoons, Smugglers, and the Systematic Theft of Africa’s Wealth

By

Williams Collins 319pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

Both of the following statements are true. High prices for natural resources have lifted economic prospects in Africa and help to explain why the lives of millions of Africans have sharply improved over the past decade. Those same rich resources are a curse: their exploitation by kleptocrats and other plunderers helps to keep institutions weak and prolongs political instability, poverty and repression in the continent.

Africa is so diverse, with its billion or so people and fifty-four countries, that examples abound to support both these claims. Plentiful deposits of platinum, diamonds, coltan, tantalum, gold, bauxite, copper, oil and gas, and other natural goodies such as huge forests, are spread wide across the continent. The export

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