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Books

Reuben J. Kashambuzi
A Matter of Faith: the Story of Petroleum Exploration in Uganda 1984—2008

Impro Publications Ltd., Kampala, 2010 (Available @ 50,000/- from Aristoc Bookshop, Garden City, Kampala)

This memoir by Uganda’s former Oil Commissioner recounts his and his civil servant colleagues’ long struggle, with negligible resources, to assemble enough geological and geophysical data to interest international oil companies in Uganda’s oil and gas potential.  Contains much interesting detail, and much incidental opinion, on the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department’s development and its relations with international oil companies, donors, and consultants.  Essential reading for all with a serious interest in Uganda’s oil exploration and production.

Paul Collier
The Plundered Planet: How to Reconcile Prosperity with Nature

Allen Lane, London, UK, 2010

 The author of the best-selling ‘The Bottom Billion’ and a sometime Special Adviser to President Museveni, Professor Collier here discusses ethical, political and economic challenges in managing natural resource use.  Includes specific findings from his own recent research in economics and governance.    His point of departure is that “natural assets of the bottom billion constitute a massive opportunity. They are sufficiently valuable that, properly harnessed, they could be transformative.”  However, he points to a complicated chain of decisions, from initial exploration  (where, he says, “basic prospecting should be undertaken as a public good, and it should be financed predominantly by donors”) to extraction and marketing.  Any weak link in the chain—a bad decision at any point—could have adverse consequences for the whole.  Interesting and illuminating but sometimes hard to follow, despite the author’s efforts to write for a general audience.

Duncan Clarke
Crude Continent: the Struggle for Africa’s Oil Prize

Profile Books, London, 2008

This book’s great length (674 pages) owes partly to its rambling and repetitious style.  Yet the Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia)-born author has ample experience of the global oil industry and offers some insights into its behaviour. Information on Uganda is limited and now outdated, but the book is useful in setting the wider context. The reader must be ready, however, for a tiresome undercurrent of contempt, as epitomized in the title’s characterization of Africa as a ‘crude’ continent.

Macartan Humphreys, Jeffrey Sachs and Joseph Stiglitz (eds.)
Escaping the Resource Curse

Columbia University Press, 2007

Synopsis forthcoming

Terry Lynn Karl
The Paradox of Plenty: Oil Booms and Petro-States

California University Press, 1997

An early exploration of the damage that mineral booms can cause to developing economies, in terms of both economic output and governance.  It looks especially at Venezuela (whose oil reserves are at least 100 times greater than Uganda’s), but also Angola, Algeria, Indonesia, Iran and Nigeria.