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Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Comboni Fathers warn of coming power struggle over African oil
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 The editorial of a magazine published by the Comboni Missionaries, warns that America is getting more and more involved in the developing oil industry of African countries. The Nairobi-based Catholic Information Service of Africa (CISA) last night issued the following summary of the article from the May-June issue of New People entitled: 'Black Gold: Black is not Always Beautiful!' As the world's attention is fixed on the Persian Gulf, another titanic power struggle goes on, and many people fail to see what is happening in Africa. This power struggle is about the control of strategic crude oil reserves and showing other Arab states who the ruler of the world is. In September 2002, the US Navy decided to set up a base in São Tomé and Príncipe, Africa,s smallest country consisting of only two islands off the coast of Gabon. The naval base has access to a landing strip. Airplanes and boats of the American navy will protect the many oil tankers that leave the West African coast and head towards the USA. Around the same time, American President George Bush met with eleven African Presidents; all of them from countries where crude oil production is underway or expected to start soon. Colin Powell, America,s Secretary of State, paid a visit to Gabon and Angola, two major oil producers. Africa's 'black gold' attracts foreign interests, and America is in the forefront. Most African producers - namely Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe - do not belong to OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and so production quotas do not bind them. Nigeria is considering withdrawing from OPEC to boost its production beyond the two-million-barrel quota per day. Furthermore, these countries lie on the Atlantic coast, far from the strategic bottleneck of the Persian Gulf. African crude oil is essential to the United States if they are to lessen their dependence on oil from the Gulf. America is not alone in this rush towards African oil. Chinese and Canadian companies are active in the Sudan, fuelling the longest war of the continent. European firms are engaged both in exploration and extraction activities in most African countries. Africa is becoming the next frontier for oil companies. Huge reserves have been discovered in the Gulf of Guinea. The existence of some of these fields has been known for a long time. But only today, with the availability of deep-water drilling technology, have these reserves become accessible. Oil and gas have been discovered along the African coast from Mauritania to South Africa. Inland, the new Chad-Cameroon pipeline will soon bring both countries to full production. Huge reserves are to be found in the Central African Republic. A link to the Cameroon pipeline will make it easy to bring this oil to the coast. The unrest that toppled former President Patassé,s government, a war supported by Chad and externally aided by the USA, is not unfamiliar, with making this oil available to certain nations. Recently, Neil Ford, an expert in oil production, stated: "oil puts Africa on the map." Sadly, it is true. In this era of globalisation, international links, fast exchanges, Africa remains at the edge of modernity. It becomes the, centre of attention only when a new basis for exploitation arises. The various initiatives aiming at giving Africa a new start almost always result in huge profits for foreign companies and their local cronies. Oil industry is good for statistics. Suddenly, citizens of a country with one of the poorest per capita income become rich. But in reality, the newfound oil does not fuel development. Equatorial Guinea is an example. Per capita income rose from 308 US$ in 1995 to over $1,500 in 2002. In reality, the population has seen no improvement. The people of Equatorial Guinea remain among the poorest of the continent. Oil puts Africa on the map - a map void of the lives of millions who will never benefit from the resources of their land. Source: CISA, New People, -editorial of upcoming issue of May-June 2003. New People is an international missionary magazine published by the New People Media Centre of the Comboni Missionaries in Nairobi, Kenya, and available across Africa.
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