Oil and Africa: Fear of Disruption, Pollution, Land Grabbing, Corruption, Human Rights Abuse and insecurity
By Rajab Bwengye
Africa is known as the World’s richest in terms of Natural resources. These include forests, wetlands, minerals, wild animals, fertile soils, lakes and rivers plus other magnificent land forms therefore, why the continent has remained as a habitat for the World’s poor has never been an issue of depravity of natural resources..
The recent discoveries of oil in East Africa confirm the dominance of Africa, as far as endowment of natural resources is concerned.
From North, through Central to South; to West and now east, the continent is richly endowed with natural resources. The East African region has been the last frontier.
However, the indigenous inhabitants of the land upon which the discovery is made have expressed fear of disruption, pollution, land grabbing, corruption, human rights abuse and insecurity; these consequences have been felt all over the continent.
In North Africa, the Arab spring that started in Tunisia, Egypt, through Libya and now biting Sudan (North and South), Syria has exposed the danger that can accompany petrol dollars; the creation of deep seated aristocracies built out of oil wealth. All the above oil rich nations ended up in civil strife.
In Central Africa, DRC has never known peace despite rich natural resource endowment. Oil, copper, gold constitute the denominator figure in the equation.
In West Africa, political instability has been the order of the day mainly due to Oil mining by Royal Shell. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (“MEND”) is, for example, one of the largest militant groups; it claims to expose exploitation and oppression of the people by Federal Government of Nigeria and Oil corporations involved in the extraction of oil in the Niger Delta
In East Africa, there are all signs that poor governance of the oil resource is the biggest challenge that is befalling Uganda’s oil dollar fortunes in the Albertine rift. East Africans in Kenya and Tanzania should, therefore, be wary. Lest the trend comes calling.
Sudan, both North and South, Somalia and Eritrea are already in serious internal conflict; revolving around resource sharing and political machinations.
In addition to the above , Oil extraction in the Eastern part of the continent will, in the near future, wreck important ecosystems oil extractions are being operated in ecologically sensitive zones .
- In Kenya for example, Oil in 2007 was discovered in Sibiloi National Park the South Island and the Central Island National Parks located in the Lake Turkana Basin-North Kenya. The area was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1997 due to being inhabited by diverse fauna.
- In Tanzania, there is off shore mapping of oil and gas deposits in the deeper continental shelf –The Indian Ocean Coast by The Norwegian Company Statoil Hydro which signed a PSA, in April 2007, on Block II offshore. The coast line is covered by Rich Mangrove forest that are breeding places of many land animal and bird species
- In Uganda/Democratic Republic of Congo, there is Oil exploration in Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.
- There is also Oil extraction activities messing up the biodiversity rich Albertine graben a known world heritage of Flora and Fauna.
The writer is an oil governance officer,
NAPE-Oil Watch Uganda