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Oil Dependency is Africa’s Undoing

Oil Dependency is Africa’s Undoing

Oil pours from a conical flask

Since the 2nd World war, oil prices used to be affordable. After the Middle East war in 1973, oil became a formidable weapon in international politics when Arab oil producing countries hiked the price and threatened to deny pro-Israel countries of oil. 

If other countries can use their resources as weapons- why can’t we (Tanzanians) do the same? Why are we, for example, underestimating the power in our Tanzanite, gold and diamond? If oil producing countries can withhold or reduce the production of oil to meet their agenda- are we also able to do the same with the resouces we have accessed to foreigners at throw away prices? Is oil the only weapon? No! We have wildlife, fish, forest products, rivers and lakes among others! 

Coal and gas producing countries have used these resources to better themselves economically. TheUK is economically strong due to its coal. Since oil reserves are dwindling, (BP says that only 1 trillion barrels remain and the earth’s 6.4 billion people are said to use a third of this oil every year with theUS using 20 times more than any other nation on earth) countries such as Britain, Norway, Mexico are buying and storing oil for future use. America has its oil but it still buys more for storage purposes. What are Africans storing? What water body, for example, has Tanzania reserved to preserve fish for future use? 

Africa’s resources attract the high and mighty who come in the name of good governance, democracy and make poverty a history. Companies such as Exxon, BP, royal Dutch, Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Gulf and Mobil- oil owned by Americans are found wherever oil and gas are found. Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) has been mining oil in Nigeria’s Niger Delta in conjunction with NNPC, Agip and Elf. But all the while, Nigerian citizens have not benefited from these mines; their environment is destroyed. The oil has served to alienate the government from its people. Today, Nigerian citizens are fighting with iron-fisted Texaco, Mobil, Agip and Chevron. 

As the price of oil escalates, the prices of our produce continue to drop. Burundi’s coffee prices are falling, Ghana’s cocoa and Tanzania’s cotton are experiencing the same problem at the world market. In Tanzania, we are forced to sell over five kilograms of cotton to afford one liter of petrol. 

Just as Chevron used to pay police to kill those who protested against the meager returns from oil in Nigeria, I fear our leaders will be bribed by oil magnates to pay a deaf ear to our fight against exploitation in the world markets and abuse of human rights in oil mining areas. 

It is time citizens woke up and demanded transparency and accountability from their governments. Iranian citizens rejected their leader- Shah, for being misused by external agendas. 

Arabs have oil, Europe has technology and industries but Africa has plenty of natural resources. How are we making use of these resources? Shall we watch our resources auctioned by our greedy leaders? If we allow our leaders to continue with this trend, we shall soon be slaves. 

By Conges Mramba.

Conges Mramba writes for RAI, a Tanzanian weekly.

http://www.africanexecutive.com/modules/magazine/articles.php?article=3415

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