Oil and Poverty in Africa: Livelihoods are more important to local people than Oil

Oil over Africa: Growth in Poverty

The poverty side of Angola – Lobito

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