Reportage and Archives: Archives: Between Rags and Riches: Azerbaijan
“Between Rags and Riches: Oil and Azerbaijan”
Thanks to a new oil pipeline that was dubbed the "contract of the century" when it was signed in the early 1990s, Azerbaijan has one of the hottest economies in the world, with a GDP growth rate of 32 percent in 2006. But Azerbaijan is also rated as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Today, as oil begins to flow through the completed pipeline at a capacity of one million barrels a day, Azerbaijan stands to reap as much as $150 billion in the next 20 years. But how will the money be used? Baku still bears the sophistication of its first oil boom, in the late 1800s, but the rest of the country still staggers under the decaying infrastructures of the old Soviet regime. Reforms in education and healthcare, as well as housing and social services for refugees from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, are all pressing needs. Will Azerbaijan's oil boom be used to move the country from rags to riches -- or will it only increase the sharp divide between rich and poor?
(Shot in 2006)