The Black Gold. The End To All Of Our Problems. A New Way To Ensure That Our Societies Are In Tandem With The Middle East States (the Middle East is the New ‘West’, in case you have not checked).
We all pray and hope that this will be true. Kenya sends a couple of Chinese mining firms to the Northern Frontier (a harsh place to be in) to go about drilling for it. Uganda is already on with the exploration in its northern provinces. The newest (hopefully) state in Africa, South Sudan, is waiting for the people to pitch tent there and get on with it. Angola has already gone ahead with it and they are reaping the fruits (and problems) brought about by this not-so-new source of wealth. Nigeria lead the way but the Niger Delta is synonymous with rebels, kidnapped expatriates and cut pipelines more than anything.
From the hope that better things will come across to (crossing our fingers against this) anarchy and all manners of misrule. This seems to be what ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ is afflicted with. North African states, and more specifically Libya, and the Middle East has shown what oil money and more popularly referred to as Arab Money can do to an economy and its peoples. In Qatar, free housing, interest-rate free government loans and other perks are all linked to oil. This is what directly impacts on the people whereas in terms of infrastructure, grand plans are being put up all over.
But what could be the main problem in Africa with regards to oil? A few facts first:
- Nigeria is OPEC’s largest member in Africa (in terms of exports) and seventh worldwide. It produces 2.05 million barrels of oil per day. It’s total refining 445000 barrels per day.
- Angola in 2009 hit 1.98 million barrels of oil per day. Angola is challenging Nigeria’s position with regards to oil exports.
Going by the high petroleum prices that are around, it would not be hard to figure out the kind of money and eventual development that these countries would benefit from. But it seems that the locals do not feel the effects of all this wealth. And thus they want a share of the proceeds. They have done this through the formation of rebel groups like Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in Nigeria and the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda in Angola.
The governments are benefitting from the oil since they have formed state companies to help in the marketing of the oil. Government officials, apart from their official salaries, do benefit from the oil but the residents of these areas where oil exploration is happening do not receive anything. Corporations have also been known to engage in high-level corruption with regards to oil. They are also accused of environmental degradation to these areas where they carry on with their business.
Can the government do anything else apart from being spectators in the game of oil, ecosystem and lives?