Summary of The Looting Machine

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The Looting Machine book summary

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  • Comprehensive
  • Eye Opening
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Africa pours out a wealth of raw materials – bauxite, iron, copper – as well as fossil fuels, uranium, gold and diamonds. Despite this natural wealth, desperate poverty besets many of its resource-rich countries. Tom Burgis, a veteran investigative journalist, shines a light on the “shadow states,” criminal networks and unscrupulous corporate entities that impoverish the continent while extracting vast profits. For readers seeking to understand the underlying causes of Africa’s suffering – and who benefits from that suffering – this unflinching account answers these questions with outrage and compassion.

About the Author

Investigations correspondent at the Financial Times Tom Burgis focuses on the natural resource industries.


Africa holds about one-third of the Earth’s mineral and fossil fuel stocks.

Sub-Saharan Africa provides treasures for the world’s industries and energy systems. The continent boasts about one-third of Earth’s mineral and fossil fuel stores, including nearly one-eighth of global crude oil reserves. A typical 14-gallon vehicle tank of gas contains one gallon refined from African oil. Angola pumps more than 2% of the world’s oil and contributes one-seventh of China’s oil imports; only Saudi Arabia sells more oil to China. Nigeria, Africa’s leading oil producer, pumps even more, and it has enormous stores of natural gas; recent discoveries may be larger than the United Arab Emirates’ reserves.

Africa possesses major deposits of nearly every mineral, including 80% of the world’s platinum, 40% of the planet’s gold and the globe’s richest diamond mines. France’s nuclear energy group Areva obtains one-third of its uranium in Niger. Congo supplies one-fifth of the mineral coltan (columbite-tantalite), which cellphones, laptops, tablet computers and other electronics require. In 2010, the value of Africa’s mineral and hydrocarbon exports reached $333...

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