Oil over Africa: Growth in Poverty
Angola is a rich country thanks to oil, but like in many countries, you can meet a lot of poor people. Most of them live in old buildings, old ruins, from the portuguese colonial time. The contrast is huge…This little girl lives in Lobito in the former commando center, which looks like a huge boat.
© Eric Lafforgue / www.ericlafforgue.com
by Nnimmo Bassey
He expressed concern over the scramble for Africa resources, and stressed that oil is the driver of poverty in Africa, noting that oil subverts the key Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) such as; eradicating hunger and poverty; reduced child mortality;improved maternal health, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development, amongst others. Oil pollution and environmental degradation, arising from different stages of oil exploration andexploitation in Africa oilfields, amount to truncated livelihoods and environmental abuse.
He further emphasised on the connection between oil and poverty in Africa, noting that oil companies pollute through toxic releases such as gas flares, spills and storage of waste materials. Oil spill causes biodiversity loss and deforestation results from all stages of oil extraction, thereby amplifying environmental degradation and ruined livelihoods in oil producing communities.
Based on this, he noted that oil has fuelled corruption, as large sums of money is derived from oil production, and from royalties, taxes and other payments from the oil companies to the government. Worthy of note, is Nigeria, during the last four decades, hundreds of billions worth of crude oil has been extracted from the Niger Delta wetlands, earning huge profits for a privileged few, while virtually robbing the affected communities of both life and livelihoods.
Despite the fact that most oil reserves are concentrated in Africa, in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania, amongst others, oil is still “fuelling poverty’’ as 70 percent of Africa now live in countries that have growth rate of over percent. Only about 4 percent earn over $10 per day. Also in measuring growth rate, GDP grow by 7.7 percent in last quarter of 2011 and 7.3 percent in April 2012. Hence, poverty is grabbing 70 percent of Africa’s population.
He further stated that leaving oil in the soil in places such as Ogoni, Lofoten, Yasuni, South Sudan, and Costa Rica will be in the best interest of the environment. There is need for Africa to go beyond oil, as toxic economies (oil production) suck the blood of the people, labour, resources, their wellbeing as well as their socio political space.
We are united by the environment, and there are no legislative boundaries to ecological problems.
In conclusion, he said the preservation of our environment, the restoration of polluted streams and lands, the recovery of our dignity will only come about when we stand away from the pull of the barrel of crude oil and understand that the soil is more important to our people than oil.
The Stone Age did not end with lack of stones, so Africa will not end because of lack of oil.
We are one Africa; the time to act is now.
Source: OilWatch Conference-report-2012