Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type



Political Science & International Relations


Since Ghana discovered oil in large commercial quantities in 2007, many have questioned whether the country can avoid the resource curse. Defined as the inability of resource rich developing nations to benefit from such resource compared to non-resource rich nations, this thesis has proven mostly true in many developing nations. In this paper, I examine the importance of institutional quality in relation to avoiding the resource curse. I do this by methodically analyzing in historical context various indicators (Rule of Law, Effective Governance and Openness and Accountability), and argue that, resources (in this case, oil) are not in themselves a curse, rather the nature of institutions, whether curse resistant or curse receptive determines such outcome. Through a comparative case study of Nigeria (1960-2000) and Ghana (1972-2012), I demonstrate how weaknesses in the former’s institutional environment (very weak rule of law, ineffective governance and the lack of openness and accountability), contributed to the country’s demise as a resource cursed nation. I also examine Ghana in the same way, demonstrating that the country’s institutions are relatively susceptible to the resource curse due to the mediocre state of its institutional environment and fairly weak rule of law.