Economies with natural-resource endowments have a huge opportunity to transform their prospects. But history suggests that they could all too easily squander the windfall.
To date, resource-driven countries have tended to underperform those without significant resources: almost 80 percent of the former have a per-capita income below the global average. Since 1995, more than half of these countries have failed to match the average growth rate of all countries. Only one-third have maintained growth beyond the resource boom. Recent McKinsey research lays out a new model that could help countries capture the coming resource windfall.
To be included in our roster of resource-driven countries in oil and gas and in minerals, countries had to meet at least one of three criteria: (1) resource exports accounted for 20 percent or more of total exports in 2011; (2) resources on average accounted for more than 20 percent of government revenue from 2006 to 2010; and (3) resource rents were more than 10 percent of GDP in 2010 or the most recent year for which data are available. Also included are countries likely to meet these criteria in the near future.
Resource-driven countries in the low- and lower-middle-income brackets could capture $1.2 trillion to $3 trillion of the $11 trillion to $17 trillion cumulative global investment in resources to 2030. At the high end of this range, these countries would net almost $170 billion a year, more than three times their development-aid flows in 2011. There is some potential to lift almost half of the world’s poor out of poverty. That would be more than the number of people who left the ranks of the poor as a result of China’s rapid economic development over the past 20 years.
To capture that investment, these economies should reframe their economic strategies around three key imperatives: effectively developing their resource sector, capturing value from it, and transforming that value into long-term prosperity. The research explores best practices on six fronts: building the resource sector’s institutions and governance, developing infrastructure, ensuring robust fiscal policy and competitiveness, supporting local content, deciding how to spend resource windfalls wisely, and transforming resource wealth into broader economic development (exhibit).