Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Studies: African Studies

First Advisor

Seth Markle


Although Africa possesses rich natural resources, the Afro-pessimistic conception that African countries cannot manage their resources remains widespread. This research project provides a comparative analysis between the political and economic histories of Ghana and Nigeria following independence. In addition to focusing on these countries’ post-independent histories, this thesis examines the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) of the early 1990s in Nigeria as an effective civil society organization that vocalized the Nigerian government and Shell Petroleum Corporation’ corruption in the oil industry. Additionally, this research project explores Ghana’s potential to overcome Nigeria’s “negative” experience with oil due to its relatively stable democracy, diversified and liberalized economy, mutually beneficial relationship with multinational corporations, ability to look to other models of oil production, and vibrant civil society. As necessary components in developing a human rights model of oil production, these qualities enable Ghana to debunk the prevailing idea of the African ‘oil curse.’

Through analyzing primary sources on the MOSOP movement and Nigeria’s current environmental state, scholarly works on different perspectives of Ghana’s potential with oil production, and Ghanaian news websites, one can see Ghana’s prospect to embody a human rights model of oil production. The primary sources discussing Nigeria’s defective paradigm for establishing an oil industry that abides by the human rights mentioned earlier show that the country’s minorities and civil society did not receive adequate representation. After exploring the different perspectives of Ghana’s potential to overcome the oil production model presented by Nigeria, one sees that some scholars believe Ghana will follow Nigeria’s path of corruption, while others believe Ghana’s relatively stable democracy and economy will ultimately lead to the country’s success. Apart from these secondary sources, the news articles examined depict Ghana’s free press and its ability to publish a myriad of opinions on the oil industry. After researching the different perspectives of Ghana’s ability to disprove the African ‘oil curse,’ the evidence shows that the country possesses the ability to prosper, but must implement the necessary regulatory framework, look to other models and of oil production, and include civil society in policy-making.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in International Studies.