A good article in today’s New York Times about oil development in Sao Tome, the small principality off the West African Coast.

In contrast to much of African oil development – that has been plagued by corruption – Sao Tome’s oil development was meant to be different and benefit the local people. It was meant to avoid the resource curse.

According to the Times though: “Things, however, have not quite worked out that way. The first drop of oil has yet to be produced. But these days, little São Tomé may have attracted ample supplies of something else, federal investigators suspect — oil-related corruption.

In recent years, a steady stream of people like the Columbia University economist Jeffrey D. Sachs have gone there to try to make sure that any energy boom would benefit its 150,000 people, rather than politicians and companies.

“Oil can be a blessing or a bane for a country,” Mr. Sachs said. “The theory was to help São Tomé avoid the resource curse.” You can read the Times investigation as to what happened here.