Mo’ Oil, Mo’ Problems

When I read about the growing oil reserves in Africa I can’t help but question the impact that this resource will have on the continent. Will oil bring underdeveloped African countries to western standards of industrialization and prosperity, or will it condemn them to political turmoil, corruption and war, as has been the case in the Middle East? It is clear that black gold will bring money to the continent, but to quote the Notorious BIG, isn’t Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems? Luis Alberto Praxeres, the executive director of Sao Tome’s National Petrol Agency thinks not (he wouldn’t),

“This is a very poor country. Oil could solve all our problems.” (from TIME magazine, 6/11/2007)

oilIt’s tough to argue with Praxeres. From Sao Tome, Gabon, Angola to Nigeria, the oil industry has recently stimulated a lot of business. On the gulf of Guinea, the oil is high quality, with low sulfur, and therefore requires very little refining before it hits the pumps. Not to mention the security benefits, which the Middle East can’t provide. Angola is already China’s top supplier. Gabon is hooking up France with their fix. Is the United States next? Some experts predict that the Gulf of Guinea will supply 20-25% of total US imports by 2020. But what impact will this have on the people? We don’t need a historical review to see the threat that this poses, just look at the present, look at Iraq. How do we negotiate and struggle for agency, so African social, economic and environmental interests are protected? Is there a way to distribute resources fairly, or is the oil industry so corrupt that we don’t even want a part of it?

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Published on June 13, 2007 at 6:07 pm. 5 Comments.
Filed under Africa,collective action,news/politics.